Fresh produce quality generally good despite drought

The Institute of Market Agents of South Africa (IMASA) has reported that it has not received complaints from market agents regarding poorer quality fresh produce resulting from the current drought.

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However, quantities of certain fresh produce were down due to restricted water supplies in some parts of the country.
“The drought has affected farmers, especially those reliant on underground water, and this has meant reduced plantings in some areas of crops like onions and potatoes,” said IMASA general manager Michael Cordes.

Cordes said that cases where the drought might have affected the quality of fruit and vegetables “are in the minority”.
Retail chain Pick n Pay, said that while the drought had clearly created difficulties for some fruit and vegetable growers, it was working with its suppliers to ensure customers are able to obtain the fresh produce they wanted and that any price increases were kept to a minimum.

“In a small number of cases, suppliers have made available some fresh produce which, while perfectly good to eat, does not conform exactly to our specifications, for example on size or shape. We have highlighted these products to our customers, indicating that we are giving them the opportunity to support our farmers, reduce waste and buy perfectly nutritious local products,” said David North, Pick n Pay’s group executive for strategy.

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Shoprite Checkers told Farmer’s Weekly that while it had begun experiencing a slight shortfall on volumes of some fresh produce items in comparison to previous years, the supermarket group was not having major problems with the quality and quantity of fresh produce that it required.