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Better prospects for plums

Subdued UK stone fruit market

There's plenty of South African stone fruit on its way to Europe at the moment, said Wayne Mudge from Cape Five, as they loaded a number of containers last week. He confirmed that there had been only a minor disruption, due to the wind.

"Volumes are difficult to judge at the beginning, but what we are seeing with the early varieties is that they are very uniform. Timing is normal to early but there are bigger volumes, indicating that the fruit is all ripening at the same time and there will likely only be two pickings rather than 3 or 4," explains Wayne.

Sizes are good from the Western Cape, which has most likely been helped by current weather conditions, with temperatures around normal for the time of year, if not warmer. Some areas of South Africa, particularly the north of the country have had some good rain in recent weeks; they could do with more but the situation is easing. In the Western Cape however, there has been no significant rain, but it is not their rainy season just now.

The UK is the main market for South African stone fruit at this time of the year, and normally it would be a good time for them, but it is a little subdued this year and there is still some Italian fruit around.

According to Wayne, the European market is a bit over supplied with peaches at the moment, but the plum market is looking better.

The first containers of Cape Five's stone fruit should have arrived in Holland yesterday, Thursday, with peaches, nectarines and plums.

There is also a big difference in the pound/rand exchange rate from last season, it has gone from 22-23 £/ZAR to 17 £/ZAR making it difficult to get the prices up to a decent level.

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