Under normal circumstances, atchar processors would already be in full swing to meet high demand from consumers across Mzansi.
Production has, however, been hampered due to a mango shortage. Mangoes are available during summer, which begins in November and peaks in January and February.
Atchar is a local fave made with raw mango, garlic, oil and various spices. It is often served with curry, magwinya and bunny chows.
Lovers of kotas, bunny chow and amagwinya, are you aware that a possible increase on the price of atchar looms this festive season? That’s if you’re lucky enough to get it…
Limpopo farmer Theo de Jager, who is also the president of the World Farmers’ Organisation (WFO), says due to a colder winter and earlier seasonal rains, this year’s mango harvests have been delayed. This throws a big spanner in the works for atchar processors dependent on the subtropical stone fruit.
De Jager says normally, at this time of the year, atchar processors would already be in full swing, gearing up to meet the demands of consumers across Mzansi.
However, with a mango shortage, production has been hampered. “It might be the cold winter, or that we had early rain this year, so it seems there was a second wave of flowering. We will see what the November drop does to the industry.”
The anticipated price jump will not be the first of its kind, De Jager says. “In 2006 we had a similar year. In the end, the price which consumers paid was not significantly higher. The actual knock was taken by the processors. “
Great for farmers, but what about consumers?
The mango industry is one of the most transformed in the agriculture sector, says De Jager. He adds that about 37% of South African mango production is sold locally as fresh-eating fruit, while 16% is processed to juice. The atchar market absorbs only 28.5% while 10% is for dehydration.
According to De Jager atchar is always at the top of the processing chain. Mangoes are cut while they are still green allowing the fruit to reach markets at an early stage.
“November crops didn’t happen because the fruit was late. At this stage, we do not really know how much will come through. Prices might go slightly higher if scarcity prevails.”
Due to the missed harvest, mango prices are currently high – up to R3 000 a tonne – which means less will be cut up for atchar, which is at the lower end of the market. “It is good news for farmers. We will only know by end of December or the beginning of January if this will be bad news for consumers of atchar,” De Jager says.