South Africans have Mandela, Tutu, and now oranges. The rainbow nation has citrus, grapes and pome fruits to thank for enhancing their market position in the last decade with citrus emerging as South Africa’s biggest and most important fruit export in value and volume.
The country is the world’s third-largest citrus exporter, after Spain and Turkey with oranges making up the bulk of the exports.
While nearly 76% of the citrus that South Africa produces is exported, with the EU taking 32% and the UK 10%, 25% of its stone fruits are also exported, with 40% going to the EU and 31% to the UK.
But with success comes more work as increased volumes have been recorded for lemons, limes and soft citrus (naartjies), new markets are required or else the heavy production will lead to a glut.
According to the Bureau for Food and Agricultural Policy’s latest agricultural outlook for 2018-2028, South Africa’s citrus market share rose from 4% in 2001 to more than 10% in 2018, followed by table grapes (5% to 7%) and pome fruits (3% to 6%). The projections indicate by 2028, the country could be exporting 25% more cartons than last year.
According to local media City-Press, the bureau reckons to sustain the growth and new and diversified markets need to be found. While the EU and the UK are the country’s most important export markets, population growth in the two markets keeps sliding with only 1.5% growth being recorded yearly.
Countries in the southern hemisphere are giving South Africa a run for its money, the bureau revealed, noting many of South Africa’s competitors already have a presence in these profitable markets urging the country to stake a claim.
Contributing to the country’s citrus rave are new lemon trees expected to begin producing fruit in the coming years with 14,470ha recorded as at last year.
For naartjies, the area under production from 2009 to 2018 increased from 4,960ha to 16,285ha with projections showing more than 561,000 tons will be produced by 2028 and lemons and limes to about 642,000 tons, as new groves begin carrying fruit.
As at the past season, only Mexico, Spain and Turkey produced more lemons and limes than it did emerging as the fourth-largest exporter of the produce. The US, EU, UK and Russia are the biggest importers of lemons requiring South Africa to do more to beat its competitors which are geographically well placed to serve these markets, reports News24.com.
On how the country’s apples are faring regarding exports, the Bureau for Food and Agricultural Policy’s report rendered the biggest portion of apple exports goes to the UK and the EU (31%), Africa (29%) and the Far East and Asia (27%).
For prunes, 74% of total prune production in the past 10 years was exported with a 14% growth expected in the next decade.