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Bureau for Food and Agricultural Policy

'South African fruit farming is facing a challenging decade'

The Bureau for Food and Agricultural Policy (BFAP) has warned that the South African fruit farming sector, which is the largest employer of farm workers in the country, was, over the next decade (2022 to 2031), facing a two-pronged challenge of falling incomes and rising costs. This would follow a decade of good prices recorded by most of the fruit types grown in the country.

According to the BFAP, during the decade 2012 to 2021, fruit farming enjoyed excellent returns. That wad the result of good prices in export markets plus increased efficiencies (which took the form of improving yields) and the ongoing depreciation of the Rand. This meant that fruit farms had been able to absorb increased labor costs, without having to reduce their workforces.

Recently, the BFAP cautioned: “Based on the current market outlook we anticipate strong downward pressure on prices for most fruit exports from South Africa due to headwinds facing the global economy and increased competition from the likes of Peru and Chile. Farm income is however a function of price times quantity, which implies that price declines can still be offset by higher volumes sold. We do expect more fruit entering the market as more trees come into production, but not enough to beat the cumulative impact of price declines and continued increases in farm costs.”


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