The official estimates are out, and an “excellent” apple and pear season is expected for South Africa. This is according to indicators released by the fresh produce marketer Vanguard International.
This year, Mzansi is expected to deliver 38 million cartons of apples and 17 million cartons, an increase of 4% and 2% respectively.
According to Henk Wever, manager of Vanguard South Africa, they are elated that apples are growing in volume for the second year in a row. “Yes, we are very excited about the prospects for another strong apple supply season. Apples from South Africa are an important category for Vanguard,” he says.
This year’s crop, Wever tells Food For Mzansi, will bode well for many of their key apple programmes in Asia, especially for shipments to China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, Taiwan, and Bangladesh.
2020’s favourable conditions
The good indicators are largely owed to main apple and pear production areas in the western region living through an excellent winter season with ample rain, snow, and cold units. This was also followed by the good flower and set phase between October and December 2020.
The reason for the apple growth, Vangaurd further explains, is mostly due to new plantings coming into production. This is part of South Africa’s major replanting and renewal strategy after the drought three years ago.
Unfortunately, while the Western Cape experienced overall good weather conditions, the same could not be said for Eastern Cape.
“In mid-January a hailstorm ripped through the Eastern Cape production area of Langkloof. 1,500 of the 5,500 hectares planted, were negatively affected,” Vangaurd writes in its crop estimate report.
Pack house, cold rooms take heat
Some pressures on pack houses and cold rooms are expected due to the early varieties being up to ten days behind schedule. However, Vangaurd believes growers will be able to manage this well.
Luckily, the mid and late season varieties are tracking on time and all indications point to good colours on both apples and pears.
Meanwhile, South Africa has circled back to its annual marketing campaign called “Beautiful country, beautiful fruit.”
The campaign, set to make its return to the UK this April, is themed “Doing good with South African fruit.” It is expected to highlight factors such as the taste of the produce, the ethical reasons for buying it, and the different varieties grown in the country.
South Africa’s apples and pears will be available in all major UK supermarkets from April until the beginning of October.
Container shortage in South Africa
While South Africa is celebrating its apple and pear crops, there is some concern in the table grape industry.
In related news, port problems in Cape Town have returned almost exactly one year after major disruptions in 2020.
Worldwide, a shortage of containers and vessels to transport fruit are evident. This is subsequently giving local exporters sleepless nights because there are currently not enough export containers into the country.
At the moment, all eyes are on Cape Town as the bulk of the late table grape crop still needs to be shipped.