South African stonefruit export newcomer In2Stone has high hopes for the 2017 season, despite some difficulties related to the drought in the country’s Western Cape region.
In2Stone was established last year when a number of staff members previously with Capespan South Africa formed the company shortly before the season.
“The first season was tough,” said Dalene den Basten, speaking from the company’s new office in Simondium near Paarl. “It was relatively close to the start of the previous season. In the end we did well and ended up exporting close to 1.3m cartons. We are not chasing volume but rather making sure that every carton we ship has its final destination the day we pack the fruit."
In2Stone shares offices with grape exporter, In2Fruit, and Green Marketing, which has been a leading exporter since the South African industry was deregulated.
“We believe that dealing with stonefruit is a much more focused business and that is why we felt it was important to establish the new company,” Den Basten continued. “Our team is experienced from the orchard to the marketing side, but we will always remain humble.”
In2Stone is always looking for a point of difference, she noted, and is working with its growers to develop new cultivars and products that will give them advantage in marketing.
“That is one of the reasons why we are also looking a ‘Flatties’, the category which has done well when introduced in Europe," said Den Basten.
These flat peaches have been grown in South Africa for a few years but still need to break through as a growing category. Most of them have been sold in the local market.
She explained that while there is some concern about water supplies, a good start to the season is expected.
“There are indications that we will have a clean start to the season with a better market than last year," Den Basten added. "The blossom has been even and the early fruit will be good, with drier conditions also boosting taste and quality.”