SA’s deciduous fruits production to rise in 2020/2021 on increase in planted area

Image source: USDA

SOUTH AFRICA – Production of fresh deciduous fruits i.e apples, pears and table grapes in South Africa is projected to marginally rise in the 2020/2021 Marketing Year (MY), based on increase in area planted, normal weather conditions, improvement in yields and available irrigation water following improved 2020 winter rainfall.

According to a GAIN report by USDA, the COVID-19 pandemic is expected to have minimal impact to production and exports in the season.

Deciduous fruit is the largest sub-sector of the South African fruit industry in terms of area planted, with Table grapes accounting for 42 percent of the total area planted, followed by apples (27 percent), pears (14 percent), peaches (6 percent), plums (6percent), apricots (3 percent) and nectarines (2 percent).

Table grapes production to up by 2%

During the period under review, the post forecasts the total produced table grapes to increase by 2 percent to 330,000 MT from last season’s 322,180 MT.

Domestic consumption of the fruit which comes in wide varieties such as Crimson, Prime, Thomson Seedless etc is forecast to increase by 3 percent to 36,000 MT from 34,986 MT in the 2019/20 MY.


The supply of the fruit to the domestic market and consequently consumption in South Africa is connected to the export market.

The export of the commodity is forecast to increase by 2 percent to 305,000 MT based on the increase in production.

Netherlands is the largest single country export market accounting for 40 percent of the total South African exports, followed by the United Kingdom (24 percent), Germany (5 percent) and Canada (4 percent).

The country does not heavily rely on imports, only to fill the gap during the offseason or when volumes are low from around July to November. Spain, Namibia, and Egypt are its primary suppliers.

Apple exports to rise to 510,000 MT

For apple, production is forecast to increase by 2 percent to 960,000 Metric Tons (MT) in the 2020/21 MY, from 942,203 MT in the 2019/20 MY.

Domestic consumption of apples is forecast to rise by 2 percent to 450,200 MT from 443,403 MT. About 47 percent of the total apple consumption is fresh and the remaining 53 percent is processed.

South Africa prioritizes the export market and diverts any surplus fruit or fruit that does not meet export standards to the local market.

The export of apples is forecast to increase by 2 percent to 510,000 MT in the 2020/21 MY, from 499,000 MT in the 2019/20 MY.

The United Kingdom is the largest single country market for the South African apples accounting for 13 percent of the total exports in 2019, followed by Nigeria (9 percent), Malaysia (8 percent), Bangladesh (8 percent), Zambia (7 percent), Kenya (4 percent) and Senegal (4 percent).

Just like table grapes, the country is a net exporter of apples, and only imports between 200 to 600 MT of apples to fulfill niche markets or satisfy domestic demand during the off-season when supply is limited.

Pears consumption to rise despite stiff competition from apples

Pears which are normally harvested from late December to early January are expected to reach 410,000 MT in the 2020/21, a 1 percent rise from previous year’s 407,455 MT.

Domestic consumption of pears is forecast to increase marginally by less than 1 percent to 192,100 MT in the 2020/21 MY, from 190,555 MT in the 2019/20 MY, based on the increase in production.

However, it may be partially offset by depressed domestic demand and competition from apples.

About 23 percent of the total pear consumption is fresh and the remaining 77 percent is processed.

As the second largest pear producer in the Southern Hemisphere after Argentina, South Africa only imports minimal quantities of pears mainly from China.

Exports are forecast to marginally increase by less than 1 percent to 218,000 MT, from 217,000 MT in the 2019/20 MY, based on the increase in production and minimal disruptions to the supply chain.

Europe is South Africa`s leading pears export market accounting for 48 percent, followed by Asia (23 percent), Middle East (17 percent), and Africa (8 percent).

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