The SA Stone Fruit PRODUCERS’ Association (Saspa) in conjunction with the Johannesburg Fresh Produce Market (JFPM) and leading agents recently held a plum information day at the JFPM. The project aimed to create consumer awareness and educate informal traders and retailers about basic handling procedures, optimum ripeness and the nutritional value of plums.
As plums in are grown mainly for the export market, they are mostly harvested with extended cold storage periods in mind. Arrie de Kock, specialist project manager for stone fruit at ExperiCo Fruit Technology Solutions, said plums are harvested mature and ripen en route to overseas markets.
If not ripened, the fruit is sour and is not ready for consumption. This deters consumers. he said it is vital that growers, marketers and retailers work together to ensure that plums with a good eating quality are sold on the local market.
Consumer acceptance of plums must be developed and this can only be done if there is a consistent supply of sweet juicy fruit. Product education will help informal traders to be more competitive and increase their profits. “most important immediate opportunity for the informal market is group trade,” said Saspa representative Marianne van der Laase, adding that groups, rather than individual traders, should trade as this will increase their buying power, improve distribution and selling.
Sonto Mbonambi, marketing and communications executive for the JFPM, said informal trade constitutes 60% of trade at the market. – Wilma den Hartigh