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South African stonefruit season starts well at Fruits Unlimited

“The expectations for this season are good. There was a little of cold/ hail damage in some areas, but the volumes look normal,” says Jako van Lill. “We should start exporting nectarines this week and the apricots should be here in around 2 weeks. The plums should be ready in about 4 weeks, and we are exporting peaches since the past 3 weeks.

“Around 70 percent of our production goes to export, our main destinations being Europe and the UK, which we send 60 to 70 percent. We also export to Asia and the Middle East, and we are hoping to expand to countries such as Taiwan and Canada.”

One of the plum varieties brought onto the market a few years ago, Flavor Fall, has continued its rapid growth. The plum is now in its fourth export season.

“Last year was quite a good season for Flavor Fall. There was some hail damage, so our competitor in Southern Europe had some supply issues. We’ve seen pretty good prices in the market, but it’s always dangerous to presume this year will be the same. We expect a small downward trend in prices from last year, as they were exceptionally high then. There is also an increased crop this season, so we should be able to provide quite a decent volume. When we first started Flavor Fall we had 10 hectares, we have 150 hectares now and variety is performing quite well. It’s now one of our top 3 varieties for growers.

“We try to spread the sales of this variety throughout all of our markets, but because of its large size, between AA and AAAA, we even had AAAAAAA last year, we have been trying to introduce into the Far East. This includes countries such as Malaysia/ Singapore and Hong Kong. It also sells in Europe, the UK and Russia, where it is quite an important variety.”

“It is an important variety for us as it provides us with the opportunity to export to markets that we wouldn’t be able to otherwise. It’s a constant opportunity seeking venture and we have to keep trying to get to the markets that would appreciate this variety. This will be our focus for the next four or five years. We will be in peak production in three years from now, and should be doing about 600,000 boxes of this single plum variety.

An advantage of producing new varieties like Flavor Fall, which is slightly later, is that we can supply for longer.

The company intends to ship more stonefruit to Russia as a result of the European export ban.

“Last year South Africa shipped around 3% of its plum production directly to Russia. The shipping time to Russia is anything up to 28 days, and with new varieties we have the advantage that they last longer. Some other varieties don’t last that long, so it’s a risk for us to send products there. Due to the ban, we have had enquiries for stonefruit from Russia, but you have to be careful who you deal with there."

For more information:
Jako van Lill
Mob: +27 (0) 82 824 5192
Tel: +27 (0) 21 860 1800
Email: [email protected]