Wth Sharon fruit growers in South Africa moving into the peak of their harvesting season, it is clear that the fruit is gaining popularity in the country.
However, both local and international consumers may not see the volumes that were predicted in the pre-season.
The seasonal forecast was for a crop of around 5,000 tonnes but it is clear that smaller fruit sizes and hail damage in one production area may impact on this figure.
Harvesting started in mid-April and South Africa’s technical teams have now reviewed the forecast. Although the main growing regions had good rains and no water shortages, fruit sizes are smaller than expected. The impact of hail on farms in the Greyton area is also only now becoming evident.
“This will be a pity,” says Sharon Fruit's Hein Smal. “We have seen tremendous interest internationally and in South Africa so far this season. This week we had tremendous market days in the northern areas of South Africa and it is clear that the fruit is very well received by South African consumers.”
Sharon fruit is in all respects regarded as an exotic product and in South Africa it has more or less a three-month selling season.
The South African promotional campaign follows on from years of investment amongst South African consumers.
“Since the start of the season we have seen a huge growth in those following our online programmes," Smal continued. "Most consumers are now waiting for the fruit when the season starts in April and retailers in the metropolitan areas are keen to stock the fruit. This year’s winner is a 1kg bag which has been snapped up everywhere.”
So far this season containers have been landed in Germany and the UK, which are key markets. “There is also keen interest from Canada, the Middle East and the Far East.”