South Africa’s sharon fruit industry has apparently achieved further growth both abroad and at home this season, most notably in North America and its own domestic market.
With all of this year’s export fruit now dispatched, the country's sharon fruit marketing campaign is set to continue in major international markets until the end of July.
And, despite the harvest being more at least at the same level as last year in terms of volume, fruit quality and pack-outs have reportedly been better this season, driving domestic and international sales.
Arisa, the central packing facility for South African sharon fruit located near Swellendam in the Southern Cape, is understood to have received around 7,000 tonnes of the fruit this time around.
As a result, just short of 250 containers, or 4,000 tonnes, of the fruit packed at Arisa were shipped from Cape Town to destinations around the world. “We doubled our shipments to the US this season,” said Hein Smal, spokesman for leading marketer Mor International in South Africa.
Gary Tuzzo, who represents MOR International in the US, confirmed there had been good demand for the South African fruit, with the local trade welcoming the extension of sales of the product in the US.
“Sharon Fruit from South Africa was even sold in one of America’s wackiest stores,” Tozzo revealed, referring to a new listing at Jungle Jim’s International Market, a specialist supermarket in Fairfield, Ohio, referred to as a foodies’ theme park.
“It’s a place where the first rule is to treat customers like gold,” he explained. “The second is to have fun doing it. People come from several states away for the unique shopping experience Jungle Jim’s International Market offers.
“There is a wide selection of food from all over the world, red-hot deals and, of course, lots of fun. Sharon fruit totally fitted the profile and customers had fun trying them.”
As a relatively new product, sharon fruit certainly made in-roads in the international and local trade this year. Smal said arrivals in Canada were also well received and shipments to the Far East grew once again this year. “We also had success with arrivals in Africa, with Kenya being the most noticeable.”
However, Europe and the UK continued to be the most important sales region for sharon fruit from South Africa. “Consumers like our product and we had a solid campaign,” Smal noted.
But it is in South Africa where sales of the fruit have shown the most dramatic growth this season. “This is driven by high level sales and promotional campaigns in the wholesale market sector,” Smal commented.
“We are continuing our excellent partnership with RSA Market Agents and we had major success with market and informal sector promotions. This is the most vibrant sector of our economy and we have seen our sales increase dramatically this season.”
With another month of sales to go in South Africa, there is confidence that more than 1,000 tonnes will be sold in the local market for the first time in one season. “At this stage we are running 300 tonnes ahead of last year and we are very pleased with progress.”
The South African Sharon Fruit season is a relatively short one, from April to July. “Our success this year again prove that South African consumers are looking for new eating experiences and at every one of our promotions we saw great interest into tasting the fruit and then buying it,” Smal concluded. “Thereafter we recorded repeat buys which is important for future growth.”