Slight decline in South African pear production volumes

The 2020 South African pear harvest has delivered better volumes and quality for most producers compared to the previous season.
Photo: Denene Erasmus

South Africa’s pear production for 2020 is estimated at about 411 000t, which is a slight decrease on the 413 250t produced in 2019.

Export volumes were estimated to decline 2% compared with 2019, according to Nicholas Dicey, chairperson of Hortgro and president of the World Apple and Pear Association.

Dicey ascribed the lower export volumes to the fact that certain cultivars had been negatively affected by a heatwave in September last year, including Abate Fetel, Packhams Triumph and Williams Bon Chretien.

“All [pear producing] regions are currently harvesting, with picking almost complete and most pear varieties now in cold storage and in packhouses ready for exports. Exports [will] continue out of cold storage until the end of the year. Traditional markets include Europe and the Middle East,” Dicey said.

“The [eating quality and good taste] is relatively better this year compared to last year, with all the areas having sufficient water [this season]. Initially, fruit size [was] slightly smaller, but [is] expected to improve with mid- to late-season cultivars,” he said.

“[The area planted to] brown pears such as Beurre Bosc and Golden Russet Bosc have been decreasing, [but] blush pears such as Forelle, Cheeky, Celina and Rosemarie are still popular on the market,” Dicey said.

“Prices should be in line with last year, as the Northern Hemisphere pear stocks are down 34%. This means that Europe, one of South Africa’s main markets, should be relatively receptive. The coronavirus disease [COVID-19] [pandemic], however, threw global demand and supply into turmoil, and it is yet to be seen how this will play out,” he said.

Roelf Pienaar, managing director of Tru-Cape, the largest exporter of South African apples and pears, said volumes were slightly down compared with last year, and the quality varied for growers in the Warm Bokkeveld, Elgin/Grabouw, Villiersdorp and Vyeboom regions.

“There are some perfect fruit, while others have been blemished by wind and hail. Tru-Cape is currently marketing more Packhams Triumph, Forelle and Abate Fetel than other pear varieties, although the Abate Fetel crop is down on last year,” Pienaar said.

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