Retail buyer: "There's going to be a massive scramble for apples and pears."

Domestic topfruit prices firmed by low supply

The prices of apples are 23% and pears 18% higher than last year on South Africa's domestic market, notes fresh market analyst Dr Johnny van der Merwe.

Lower volumes are as a result of successive hail over some 2,500 hectares in the mountains above Ceres as well as in the Langkloof.

The average price per kilogram for apples is R8.25 and for pears R7.85.

Constraints on domestic topfruit availability are starting to become evident.

"It's really bad," says a retail buyer who asks not to be named. "[especially on] Goldens and Top Reds and it's just going to get worse as we move into stored fruit. Later in the year there's going to be a massive scramble for apples and pears."

One retailer has reportedly taken the decision to allow hail-marked fruit to be packed (within class 1 and 3 requirements), a pragmatic approach that could be adopted by others.

In March, the deciduous fruit body Hortgro estimated a loss of 1.2 million 12.5kg cartons of apples and pears due to hail damage and predicted a domestic shortage of apples and pears, especially towards the second half of the year.

Mariette Kotzé, operational manager at Hortgro, pointed out that all risk and financial losses are borne by growers themselves with no state assistance, despite the economic importance of the Western Cape fruit industry.


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