SA’s subtropical fruit production does country proud

South Africa Is now firmly established as a player in international avocado, mango, and litchi markets, it emerged at the Subtropical Fruits Growers Association (SFGA’s) annual marketing symposium, held in Tzaneen.

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SFGA CEO Derek Donkin said South Africa currently ranks fifth in world commercial avocado production, producing 110 000t annually, after Mexico, Columbia, Chile and the US. About 40 000t, or 42%, of South Africa’s avocado crop is exported, with most going to the EU.While South Africa exports only 4 000t of mangoes and 2 500t of litchis every year, these locally grown products are popular overseas, said Donkin.

“Our competitive advantage isn’t size – it’s a combination of good quality, innovation, good technology, reliability and good relationships. Our competitors are fast improving into these areas, so we have to work hard to remain one step ahead.”

Also speaking at the symposium, Stuart Symington, CEO of the Fresh Produce Exporters’ Forum, said South Africa’s subtropical fruit growers and exporters are frequently on the receiving end of unethical actions at various points in the supply chain. He cited the example of “congestion surcharges” in South African harbours.

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These, he explained, are being passed on to local growers and exporters, even though they have nothing to do with the congestion.He urged overseas subtropical fruit importers and retail outlets to deliver fixed price lists timeously to suppliers, to ban selling products below cost, to create universally applicable packaging solutions and to devise a readily available blacklist of untrustworthy buyers.