The industry was also hoping to see exports to the US increase after gaining access to that market last year, according to a statement issued by Sharon Fruit South Africa. Arisa, the central packing facility where all Sharon fruit produced in South Africa are packed, in Buffeljagsrivier, southern Cape, expected to receive about 7 000t of fruit this year.
An industry spokesperson told Farmer’s Weekly this was roughly in line with volumes produced over the past two years. At one point South Africa was producing about 9 000t of Sharon fruit per year, but the industry has since consolidated and become more sustainable.
When Sharon fruit was first introduced in South Africa about 20 years ago, orchards were planted in a number of different regions across the Western and Eastern Cape. Over the years the southern Cape region proved to be the most suitable growing area for the fruit and most plantings are now concentrated in this region, while other regions have phased out Sharon fruit production.
The southern Cape region has the ideal climate and growing conditions to supplement fruit volumes grown during the Northern Hemisphere season, said Sharon Fruit South Africa’s project manager, Pine Pienaar. More than 75% of the local Sharon fruit crop is destined for the export market, but sales in South Africa have been increasing as a result of a local market development and capacity building campaign.
Apart from growing market share in its main market, Western Europe and the UK, the South African industry is also hoping to grow exports to the US market. According to Pienaar, only a limited number of containers were exported to the US last year after the industry gained access to that lucrative market.
“We were very successful with those shipments and we look forward to increasing shipments this year,” he said.
The industry was ready for a new period of growth, said Pienaar.