THE R30bn fruit industry in SA is looking to expand its markets and has identified Italy as a good prospect.
Fruit SA, an industry body representing local growers, and the Associazione Italiana Commercio Estero (AICE) have entered into a memorandum of understanding to promote mutual trade and investment in the fresh fruit sector.
This forms part of the local fruit industry’s growth strategy to expand its footprint and explore new markets while retaining and optimising current ones. AICE represents Italian companies that are predominately committed to commercial activities abroad.
SA consumes 13% of 4.7-million tonnes of fresh fruit produced by domestic growers annually. About 2.8-million tonnes of the fruit end up in the export market, with half going to the EU and the UK.
Fruit SA CEO Konanani Liphadzi said: “We produce more fruit than we consume and, with the increased planting … we are expecting higher yields in the future. This is pushing us to create more conducive trading platforms with current partners, such as Italy, and to look for new markets.”
She said the memorandum of understanding would ensure South African producers had links with Italian fruit importers.
“This will give us insight on the latest trends when it comes to fruit consumption in Italy. It will also give us an understanding of the Italian economy and plant health regulations,” Liphadzi said.
Fruit SA chairman Anton Rabe said: “SA will continue to build and formalise relationships with like-minded organisations internationally in order to improve the trade opportunities of its membership base. Such initiatives will include in-country representatives in a number of targeted countries to facilitate and improve engagement with public and private stakeholders (in those) countries.”
SA exports its fruit — including citrus, apples, pears, plums, mangoes, avocados and macadamia — primarily to the EU and the UK, as well as to the Far East, Russia, the Middle East, the US and Canada.
“We are currently approaching new markets such as Japan, China, Indonesia and India, where we can sell our fruit as we are expecting higher yield in the future,” Liphadzi said. There were a number of reasons for increased planting in SA. “Some of it comes from commercial farmers buying more land … and the other new land comes from various government land reform programmes.”
However, South Africans did not regard fruit as a staple food. “Many households in SA cannot afford to buy fruit,” she said.
However, the increase in the number of middle-class households was starting to reverse this trend somewhat, Liphadzi said.
Author: NOMPUMELELO MAGWAZA