The South African avocado export season is just about over with final volumes fall short of last year’s crop.
The country will have shipped some 12.7m cartons of avocados this season, once the last consignments of the year arrive in Europe in about two weeks. This is short of the 2014 export volume of 15.2m cartons, but the industry says it is, nevertheless, a good performance in an off-year.
Export volumes were always due to fall short of last year’s numbers, but a rise in fruit produced in new orchards boosted the crop.
“This is still a good performance and is due to the growth the industry is experiencing,” said Derek Donkin of subtropical industry body Subtrop.
While growers in the north of the country will be concluding their harvest, growers in the Southern Cape will continue to supply the local market. Orchards in this region harvest their fruit very late, and this is one of the reasons that the industry is able to supply the market for a much longer into the traditional import season from Spain and Israel.
Meanwhile, the lychee export season has started, with predictions that the industry will ship around 1m 2kg cartons this year.
“Prospects are more or less the same as last year,” Donkin explained.
However, the industry will be able to ship fruit to the US for the first time due to a new protocol agreement concluded between the two governments.
“Import licenses into the US were issued recently and we expect some air shipments this year,” noted Donkin.
Similar to the protocol for Sharon Fruit, the lychees will have to be irradiated near Miami in the US before they can be released for marketing. Donkin added that the fruit will benefit from the US Growth and Opportunities Act which will mean that it will be imported duty free into the country.
This benefit maybe short lived, however, because of the possibility that South African agricultural products may soon be excluded from the AGOA agreement, due of a continued spat between the two countries’ meat and poultry producers. If South Africa is excluded, it will also be a severe setback for citrus exporters to the US.