SOUTH AFRICA – Fruit South Africa, a non-profit organization has hosted a celebration in Pretoria to commemorate a decade of fruit industry collaboration.

Fruit SA has been around as a platform for deliberations between the different fruit sectors for longer than ten years, but it was in 2014 that the organization was officially established with full-time staff.

The company has since grown making a notable contribution of more than R63 billion (USD 3.4 billion) in foreign revenue of fruit exports in South Africa.

“FruitSA’s objective is to transform 30% of the entire value chain by 2038,” announced Fhumulani Ratshitanga, FruitSA CEO.

Three key milestones were addressed by Ratshitanga as key indicators of their growth and development over the years.

Transformation: The fruits of collaboration

To commemorate their growth, FruitSA reflects on their initiative to increase equitable participation of black role-players throughout the fruits value chain.

The outcome has seen the total volume of fruit produced by black growers increased by 33% from 362 893 tons in 2021 to 481 384 tons in 2022.

And the volume of exports sourced from black growers has grown by 25% from 183 526 tons in 2021 to 229 439 tons in 2022.

Black growers currently own 8% of fruit orchards and vineyards, producing 7.6% of the volumes often from new orchards so the percentage will probably grow, outlined the CEO.

In a survey conducted by FruitSA, among South African fruit exporting companies, 18 out of 84 indicated some sort of black ownership.

Government relations

The organization recognizes the need for meaningful collaboration with the government and its application both on a national and provincial level.

According to Ratshitanga, industry associations continue to explore means to collaborate with provincial governments to improve overall industry effectiveness.

For example, Hortgro recently engaged with a delegation from the Free State government to impart an understanding of the deciduous fruit industry.

“This engagement will hopefully be the first from many that will lead to the growth of the industry,” says Hortgro Group Operations Manager Mariette Kotze.

In the CEO’s view, navigating the evolving international trade regulatory environment requires government support.

“The on-going dispute between South Africa and the EU regarding phytosanitary entry conditions around citrus black spot is a typical example of a trade issue that demands focused high-level negotiation at government level,” she illustrated.

Market access

The CEO further notes that a recent trip by FruitsSA to Asia Fruit Logistica 2023 was a reminder of the growing demand for the South African fruits given the queries from multiple visitors to the South African stand.

Currently, 20% of South African fruit is exported to Asia and the Far East (nearly 800 000 tonnes in 2022, the highest ever).

At less than 1.4 million tons, Europe and Russia combined still receive 40% of South Africa’s supply.

The Middle East, who are potential buyers, at the trade show expressed keen interest in estimated volumes of South African fruit (particularly deciduous and citrus) that could be shipped to their shores.

“And with access for South African avocados now granted by China, many Chinese visitors at the stand asked about when export to their country would materialize,” explained the CEO.

FruitSA is a non-profit company registered as an umbrella body for the South African fruit industry.

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