South African deciduous fruit body Hortgro is aiming to build further sales of the country's stonefruit in the UK market through the latest edition of its annual promotional campaign, which will include support in supermarkets, online, in the catering industry and in the media.
As it launches its campaign for stonefruit and topfruit, the grower organisation says that it has developed activity to reflect changes in the marketplace, including an increase in discount retail sector sales.
"The UK is incredibly important for the South African fruit industry, which has established itself as the provider of the best quality stonefruit during the winter months," explained Jacques du Preez, general manager, trade & markets at Hortgro.
"We are working with retailers and the media to tell consumers about the great flavour, eating quality and ethical qualities of South Africa fruit since 2009, and together we have helped stimulate impressive growth in the category," he added.
During the 2015/16 season, volumes of South African stonefruit in the UK's top four retailers increased by approximately 6.5 per cent, while stonefruit over-indexed heavily against the market in Aldi and Lidl.
"We are promoting the fruit across the UK market, supporting sales in the country's established and emerging retailers wherever we can with labelling, competitions, sampling and social media, as well as articles about the fruit in print and online magazine and competitions for schools and young student chefs," du Preez noted.
This year's campaign includes competitions to win holidays to South Africa and Longleat safari parks on packs of South African fruit and sampling events in supermarkets; a series of short recipe videos and recipe photographs used across retailer, consumer and social media; and the Help a South African School competition and the South African Cuisine Young Chef of the Year.
Freight companies Maersk and Damco and delivery service and courier MyHermes are once again donating their services to the school project, collecting unwanted books from UK schools and shipping them to schools in rural parts of South Africa.
"The Beautiful Country, Beautiful Fruit campaign works to highlight provenance of the fruit with South African branding at the point of sale in store and online and promoting the eating quality and ethical benefits to consumers in the media," outlined du Preez. "Working in partnership with the supply chain and with other third parties including chefs, journalists and bloggers is an essential part of this process."
The 2016/17 season for South African stonefruit is underway with growers in the country predicting an estimated increase of 4 per cent, 5 per cent and 6 per cent respectively for production of peaches, nectarines and plums.
"New stonefruit plantings have expanded the range of fruit available to a more balanced offering, extending the South African season and increasing our ability to service growing market demands," he added.
As part of the marketing campaign, promotional activity for South African topfruit begins in March next year.