The first vessel carrying South African grapefruit to Japan was loaded at the port of Durban this past weekend, a week or two earlier than the norm.
"Usually our grapefruit would arrive at the start of June, this one will arrive slightly earlier," says an exporter.
Hoedspruit started its grapefruit harvest earlier. Usually they start after Easter, but this year since the beginning of April grapefruit was packed.
By week 14, 1.3 million cartons of grapefruit had been packed – 61% shipped to the European Union, 17% to Asia (32% last season YTD) and 15% to Russia (which stood at 3% YTD 2022).
"In Japan the market is empty," an exporter comments. "Normally there'd be fruit from Florida and California, but this year there's a lot less."
He continues that as in other economies, the Japanese economy is under pressure. "Its not fireworks, despite the shortage in the market."
Shipped grapefruit thus far to Europe and China are still on the water.