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Another tough season ahead for South African stonefruit?

First estimates for South African stonefruit will be released next month, but it seems that regardless of the volumes it will be an other tough season for the South African growers and exporters.

Last year stonefruit was hit by hail and unseasonable rain which reduced the volumes considerably from certain regions, but overall volumes were helped by new plantings coming onto productivity. Chile, South Africa's main competitor also suffered from frost damage early in the season which added to supply pressure.

"If Chile comes back with normal crop and we have a normal crop it will already be a challenging season," said Jacques du Preez from Hortgro, "But if we both have a big crop it will be a difficult season. We will have to look at alternatives, but we are still limited mainly to Hong Kong, Malyasia and Singapore in the East, with a chunk of our stone fruit exports also going to the Middle East."

The Russian ban will effect the European market early in the season and South Africa sends a large percentage of its stonefruit to the European and UK markets. But du Preez said that there has been been a bit of clarification on South African shipments to Russia, "At first it was unclear if we could ship the via Rotterdam or not as a shipment was been rejected at customs. But we have since learned that that shipment also included fruit from Europe. So as long as we have only South African fruit in the container and it is supported by the correct paperwork such as the certificate of Origin and South African psytosanitary certificates it should be no problem."

He goes on to say that it is less risky if you go through Dutch traders than if you go direct, if it is turned back or the situation changes you can re-direct it more easily.

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