Virus just one challenge to fruit exporters


Speaking to the Agriculture Writer’s Association in the Western Cape, South Africa’s largest apple and pear exporter, Tru-Cape Fruit Marketing, just back from attending Fruit Logistica in Berlin, Germany, says that global uncertainly fuelled by the impact of the Coronavirus coupled with tariffs on fresh produce are challenges the industry currently faces.

Commenting on the experience of being at Fruit Logistica, Tru-Cape Managing Director Roelf Pienaar said that with over 3 300 exhibitors and more than 72 000 trade visitors this show is a global opportunity to meet established contacts and to make new ones. Pienaar also attended the World Apple and Pear Association (WAPA) meeting while in Berlin which illustrated that even though South Africa only represents about one percent of global apple and pear production, the country is a major player within the southern hemisphere producers.

“In South Africa the 2020 apple export forecast is for 35.7 million 12.5kg equivalent cartons which is about a six percent increase on last year. Pear exports are expected to be down by about three percent to 16.6 million 12.5Kg equivalent cartons,” he says adding:

“Although Africa accounts for more than 50% of Tru-Cape’s total volume (local market and export to the Continent) the focus at Logistica is mainly on Europe. The hot issues at Logistica seem to be the impact of climate change on production and consumer eating habits; the widespread potential impact of the Coronavirus; and the continued downward pressure on price by supermarket groups trying to maintain their margins against the impact of the discounters like Aldi and Lidl. We also see the growth potential in on-line fresh fruit delivery.”

Pienaar also used the opportunity to sample the newest crop of Flash Gala, the improved full-red Gala strain discovered by Tru-Cape’s New Variety Expert, Buks Nel. Flash Gala, the fruit from the Bigbucks tree, is now the most successful new variety in the history of SAPO, the Plant Improvement Organisation that propagates Bigbucks trees. “There are now more than 1.6 million Bigbucks trees in the ground,” he says.

Pienaar ended the briefing explaining that macro economic indicators like Foreign Exchange indices, the oil price and tariffs can and do all shift the trading landscape.

“We are cautiously optimistic about the year ahead but, like the rest of the world, concerned about how the Coronavirus will play out.”