Raisin industry now aiming for global-player status

Despite a particularly tough season, South Africa’s raisin industry is confident that it will reach more global markets. In the last financial year, growers produced 18% less raisins than in the previous year

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Despite several issues troubling Mzansi’s raisin growers and a particularly challenging season, the industry remains optimistic and is set on becoming a prominent global player.

A glance at the latest market indicators for the 2020/2021 raisin season shows the industry has dealt with extremely difficult weather conditions.

At the beginning of the year, farmers were faced with several difficulties due to unusually heavy rains and humid conditions in the Northern Cape that already made landfall in December 2020.

These unfavourable climatic conditions caused damage in the vines and delays in production, which led to a lower crop output than the previous season.  

Market development activities bolstered

Ferdie Botha, chief executive of Raisins South Africa, tells Food For Mzansi that the latest crop figures have been finalised. The total farmer stock delivered sits at 72 000 tonnes. This indicates a drop of 18% compared to production output in 2020, which totalled 85 000 tonnes.

Ferdie Botha, CEO of Raisins South Africa,
Ferdie Botha, CEO of Raisins South Africa. Photo: Supplied/Food For Mzansi

However, despite this let-down, with the harvest and crop delivery completed and conditions looking good in both the Orange River region and Olifants River Valley, the industry remains optimistic.

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Botha says, “South Africa’s raisin volumes has grown steadily over the past decade, from 40 000 tonnes to 80 000 tonnes. The larger crop size will result in the country’s raisin industry becoming a more prominent global player.”

Botha adds this will not only be in terms of supplying world markets with a high-quality product, but also the size of raw material supply.

Moreover, Raisins SA is in the process of launching a generic mark campaign in France.

“[This will] further grow market development activities of Raisins SA in addition to current programs of Germany, the UK and the South African market,” Botha says.  

SA raisin campaign in UK

Meanwhile, the industry continues to aggressively promote Mzansi’s raisins to consumers in the UK. The campaign, that has already reached over 26 million consumers, seeks to help create a positive discussion around natural dried fruit and the benefits of its consumption.

As part of their 2021 consumer-focused campaign, Raisins SA has been focusing on public health and healthy snacking, whilst also aiming to promote the industry’s point of difference to the UK market.

The Dried Fruit Alliance (DFA) recently celebrated the success of UK-market campaign following a month-long push across trade, consumer and social media channels.

The DFA consists of a group of dried fruit heavy-weights, including Raisins SA.

It also includes Whitworths, the California Raisin Marketing Board, the California Prune Board, Pagysa, the Aegean Exporters Association, Victorian State Government, Dried Fruits Australia and the Suriaexport Raisin Exporting Group.

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