Despite the negative effects of prolonged drought, South African apple and pear marketer Tru-Cape Fruit Marketing sold more than 16m cartons during 2017.
Managing director Roelf Pienaar said the group hoped to consolidate its activities this year after the record result, with an 8 per cent increase in its sales volume seeing Tru-Cape break through the 16m-carton barrier for the first time.
“Although it is still early days we are hoping to consolidate in 2018, despite the impact of the drought in the Western Cape," explained Pienaar. "With new orchards coming into production we should end up with more or less what we planned for 2018.”
Tru-Cape exported about 65 per cent of the volume produced, with the rest sold to the local South African market.
“At the moment the South African rand is extremely volatile against all major trading currencies, which could have significant impact on the values we realise during the year," he continued.
According to Tru-Cape all exporters are at the mercy of currency fluctuation and the company uses the same instruments such as forward cover to hedge themselves against a volatile exchange rates. “For us currency stability is very important," Pienaar noted.
He outlined that, due to the adverse weather, it could be that overall fruit size is smaller than in previous years.
Despite the challenges, Pienaar said he expected Tru-Cape to have a positive and profitable 2018.
“Our growers improved irrigation efficiencies some years ago to prepare for what we expect to be the new normal climatic conditions in South Africa," he confirmed. "Many growers also used the water shortage as an opportunity to evaluate orchards and remove marginal ones.
“The end result will be improved efficiencies right through the value chain. Although we expect sizing to be smaller it is still very early to speculate how the total crop will come in. Growers are also investing in new varieties, such as Bigbucks, which, to date, with 273,000 trees sold, is the fastest planted cultivar from the South African Plant Improvement (SAPO) stable.”