South African pears initially packed and shipped out for Russian consumers have landed as humanitarian aid in the hands of more than 15 000 displaced Ukrainians.
A humanitarian donation by South African exporter Cape Five contributed to free meals given to locals in the northwestern Ukrainian city of Lutsk, 200km from the Polish border.
The pears – small-sized Williams Bon Chretien fruit – were underway to St Petersburg via Rotterdam when Russia invaded Ukraine in late February and transhipments to Russia were ceased, FreshPlaza reports.
According to Wayne Mudge, MD of Cape Five Export SA, they did not want the fruit to go to waste. So instead they contacted their buyer in Poland, Erik van Vugt of Fresh World International, who has been living and working in the fresh trade in Poland for thirty years.
“If you’re going to lose money, you might as well do good,” Mudge remarked.
He told FreshPlaza that their involvement in Covid-19 food relief in South Africa led them to quickly decide to put the fruit, still in excellent condition, to humanitarian use.
Some of their growers also chipped in and helped to cover some of the costs involved. The exporter pointed out that the rest of the industry is probably doing the same..
“There probably are other similar and ad hoc humanitarian donations made by others in the South African industry,” he said.
Pears rerouted to displaced Ukrainians
In partnership with a Ukrainian charity, Tilky Razom, the donation of the pears was cleared pro bono by Goes Handling in De Meeren. Fresh World International took care of the duties and transport to the Ukrainian border.
The charity thanked Cape Five Export SA and Fresh World International for their help to “Ukraine and Ukrainian people who suffered from this horrible and inhuman war”. It observes that pears are a good addition to the diet of the internally displaced.
Cape Five Export SA has strategic locations worldwide and comprises a group of international companies in Hong Kong and the Peoples Republic of China, supplying quality apples, pears, citrus, grapes and stone fruit worldwide.
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