If the current trend of establishing fewer apricots and peaches each year prevails, the industry could disappear in 10 years’ time. This is according to Oelof van Rensburg from Breede Valley Fruit Processors, who was speaking at a recent Canned Producers’ Association (CFPA) meeting in Worcester, Western Cape. H e said has a good reputation for quality fruit internationally and there’s a demand for fruit in all its forms – fresh, canned, dried and pulped – but with supply reductions due to few new orchards being established, SA could lose its price competitiveness on international markets.
Van Rensburg explained that local producer prices are not only dependent on the rand/dollar exchange rate, but also on the dollar price, which is forecast to decrease for fruit purée and concentrates in 2009. “Large carry-over stockpiles of purée and concentrates, especially in Chile, are one of the major causes of the expected price reduction.” T he 2009 crop will be expensive to harvest, as production costs have gone up between 30% and 35% during the past year, explained Wiehahn Victor, CEO of the CFPA. Crop estimates for apricots, peaches, and pears are all down from last year, but with an international price increase of 6% that’s been predicted for canned fruit, together with the exchange rate depreciation, producers can expect a 20% to 23% increase in farmgate prices for the 2009 canning season, he said.
Greece has had an exceptional peach season, producing 16,5 million standard cartons of canned peaches. This neutralised the weak US peach season and consequently there will be no advantage from low canned peach stocks for South Africa to exploit on the international market. Victor said that less than 1% of the current canned stock is not contracted so stock levels are low, boding well for next season. e urged producers to cooperate with the annual tree census, especially as Bon Critian pear tree numbers are suspected to be inaccurate.
“Accurate tree counts are crucial for strategic planning in the industry,” Victor told producers, adding that a heavy metal analysis conducted throughout all stages of canning measured no threatening levels. “We are clean and safe.” The analysis was done because of the cadmium poisoning that affected the pineapple industry. – Wouter Kriel