The South African fruit industry has launched its Beautiful Country, Beautiful Fruit campaign for the 2017/2018 season, marking ten years of the promotion in the UK.
Hortgro, the organisation which represents South Africa’s stonefruit and topfruit industries, began the initiative in 2009 with a pilot promotion to develop the market for the country's plums; rolling it out across the plum, peach, nectarine, apple and pear categories the following year.
Since it launched, the campaign has helped develop these categories, with sales in South African stonefruit increasing by approximately 100 per cent in the UK’s largest four retailers alone between the 2009/10 and 2016/17 seasons.
“The Beautiful Country, Beautiful Fruit campaign reaches a significant milestone at ten years this season," said Jacques du Preez, general manager: trade & markets at Hortgro. "We launched this integrated promotional push with the purpose of engaging stakeholders throughout the supply chain to grow the market together to benefit growers, the supply chain and retailers. It has achieved impressive results - with further growth to come - and has become the longest-standing country of origin campaign in UK fresh produce.”
This year’s stonefruit activity sees Hortgro working with supermarkets to build on the growth achieved to date and highlight the taste of South African varieties to shoppers in-store and online during the season.
The promotion on South African topfruit begins in spring 2018, with a focus on consumer advertising and targeted activity with retailers.
Both stonefruit and topfruit will be supported with a ‘Win a South African Journey’ holiday competition, which will run on packs of fruit and in the media; and also editorial features, including recipe articles, on South African fruit.
Hortgro’s two generic initiatives, Help a South African School and the Young South African Chef of the Year competition, will also be running.
The schools project invites teachers and schoolchildren around the UK to find out about South African fruit farming and food and submit a collage showing their learnings, with a cash prize for the winning school.
A charity part of the project also sees schools around the UK contribute to development of South Africa by sending unwanted reading and text books to schools in rural areas of the country: 48 pallets of books were sent to South Africa at the end of the 2017 season.
Now in its seventh year, the project is supported with donations of time and resources by freight companies Maersk and Damco, delivery service and courier MyHERMES and the South African High Commission.
The South African Young Chef of the Year competition, which has been running since 2014, asks young chefs from around the UK to enter their original menus using South African ingredients and methods.
The winning chef will travel to Cape Town to train with chef Luke Dale-Roberts at renowned restaurant The Test Kitchen.
According to latest forecasts from Hortgro, this season South African growers expect to produce approximately 11.8m 5.25kg carton equivalents of plums, 4m cartons of nectarines and 2.1m cartons of peaches.
Despite ongoing drought conditions in some areas, the country is expected to fullfil its stonefruit export commitments for the 2017/18 campaign.
"We are a few weeks into the season and so far things have gone well," du Preez notes. "Eating quality is very good, but there is a possibility of smaller sizes overall."