Despite logistical challenges to secure global exports, South Africa’s innovative citrus industry now expects export volumes for 2021 to, at the very least, equal last year’s levels.
In its latest newsletter, the Citrus Growers’ Association of Southern Africa (CGA) estimates that export volumes for this year will reach 163 million cartons. Each carton will weigh 15kg.
Chief executive Justin Chadwick says, “Lemon packing in 2021 is mirroring that of 2020 with almost five million cartons packed to date.
“Grapefruit packing is ahead of 2020. The variety focus groups will meet (later) in April and review the predicted export volumes for 2021.”
By the end of 11 April, almost 60% of the Satsuma mandarin crop was already packed. Thus far, 3.2 million cartons of citrus products, have been shipped to international markets.
A year of logistical troubles
Meanwhile Mzansi’s excellent year-on-year export performance hangs in the balance due to a severe global shortage of both reefer and dry sea containers.
Agbiz chief economist Wandile Sihlobo says although citrus stakeholders have historically pushed through industry challenges, logistics will again be tested this year.
“Industry players, such as the CGA and other players in horticulture, have in the past few years expressed various concerns relating to the efficiency of South Africa’s logistics.
“Specifically, rail, with port congestion and a potential shortage of reefer equipment at the time,” he says.
According to Sihlobo closer collaboration between the rail industry, agriculture and agribusiness role players is required. This is crucial in addressing various operational inefficiencies and anticipating future challenges.
“A positive development is that the sector is in communication with key stakeholders such as Transnet, which will be instrumental in South Africa’s agricultural growth drive.”