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Wednesday, 30 March 2016

South African exports in flux, dependent on many factors

While it may seem like much of the growing and exporting of fruit in South Africa remains the same, there are telling signs that the industry is shifting. Citrus, apples and table grapes still dominate, but the number of growers producing those commodities is shrinking and the industry is increasingly consolidating. Similarly, though the majority of exports still go to Europe and the U.K., Asia and the Middle East are receiving more South African fruit exports than in the past. “If you look at the statistics, then you see that most of our trade is still very much focused on Europe,” said Gary Britz of Ele Trading. “But more product is going to the Far East, and I think that trend will continue.” China grows some of the the same products that South Africa specializes in, but though that might make it difficult to find a market for apples, for instance, it's easier to find gaps in the market for items like grapes, which can't be stored for long periods of time and which aren't currently grown throughout the year in China. But any expansion into Asian countries, or any shift in the industry, for that matter, is still dependent on a myriad of factors that are almost impossible to coherently interpret. “These things depend on the exchange rate, phytosanitary regulations, the purchasing power of consumers, consumer demographics – because older people buy differently from younger people – and the growth of retail chains versus wholesale markets,” Gary noted. “Right now, Africa is not buying much because their oil industry is in shambles due to low oil prices, but if prices go back up, then more product will be diverted to those markets. A lot of people say they can anticipate these things, but every day is different.”

Source: Fresh Plaza