British fruit lovers can now look forward to the very best of Mzansi’s peaches, nectarines and other stone fruit following a partnership agreement between Hortgro and retailers in the United Kingdom.
This, says South Africa’s deciduous fruit grower organisation, is part of a strategic initiative to drive the demand for the country’s stone fruit in the UK.
As part of the agreement, Hortgro is set to position South Africa as the preferred supplier of excellent quality fruit that have been ethically and sustainably produced.
13-year Hortgro campaign
The campaign, which has been running since 2009, targets both online and in-store shoppers. It is hoped that the increased exposure of Mzansi’s fresh produce will boost sales from January through to the end of the stone fruit season in May 2021.
Jacques du Preez, Hortgro’s general manager for trade and markets, explains that the industry sees it as a long-term investment in the UK market.
“Recently, the health attributes of fruit have given the category the attention and credit it deserves. Ultimately, we want to drive consumption and demand for our fruit and, hopefully, also gain market share from our competitors,” says du Preez.
Whilst promotional work with retailers has been one of the main focuses of this year’s campaign, strong support from food writers and recipe developers on social media, as well as coverage in general consumer media publications have also been seen.
Exports behind schedule
Meanwhile, the UK is also prepping for the start of the South African pear season. The first pears from Mzansi are currently on their way and will soon be available in the retail market.
“At this stage, year-to-date, week-seven volumes exported to the UK are down 5%,” Du Preez says. “Volumes are very much in line year-on-year, but we are only five weeks into a 30-plus week season.”
It appears that Brexit is not causing any major problems for the time being. However, a slight delay in the ports is being experienced. This, however, has more to do with understaffing amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
Currently, pear exports are running behind schedule due to, amongst others, wind delays and efficiency. This, Du Preez says, has been a major factor impacting on export volumes although wind delays this time of the year is not uncommon.
“But logistics and shipping has been a challenge since the pandemic started causing havoc worldwide early last year,” he explains.
This may lead to new containers being diverted to other ports, resulting in higher transport costs for the importer.
Pear estimates on par
Furthermore, weekly volumes have been picking up and it is on par with the same time last season, Du Preez explains.
The South African pear season has fallen about half a million 12.5kg-boxes behind in terms of exports compared to last year.
A third of the 1.5 million boxes of pears exported to date have gone to Europe. The second and third largest buyers of South African pears are the Middle East and Russia.
Hortgro’s export estimates for pears for 2021 is 17.14 million boxes of 12.5kg each, roughly the same as last year’s volumes.