South Africa stonefruit cut

With South Africa’s stonefruit production expected to return to normal levels this season, a new joint venture has been established between exporter Fruits Unlimited and the Elandsrivier Group from Ceres.

The new company, Icon Fruit, said it aims to establish itself as South Africa’s leading stonefruit exporter.

“After a few years with relatively warm winters, the Western Cape is enjoying a cold and wet winter which bodes well for the upcoming stonefruit season,” said Fruits Unlimited managing director, and chairman of the board for Icon Fruit, Hans Christiaan Muylaert-Gelein.

“The picturesque snow-capped mountains are delivering the last cold units for the season and icy streams are filling up the dams across the Cape,” he added.

The launch of the new company comes at an optimal time for the South African stonefruit sector, following a period of difficult years.

“Icon Fruit will deliver its customers an attractive portfolio of the best pluots, plums and cherry plums in South Africa, complemented by a full-season offer of white and yellow nectarines and peaches,” said Muylaert-Gelein.

“We combine diverse geographical production areas to ensure consistent supply across all types of stonefruit stretching from the Klein Karoo to Ceres and the Winelands.”

Muylaert-Gelein explained how they selected the team to lead the joint venture. “We have chosen a management team with youthful energy combined with years of experience. Management of Icon Fruit will be headed up by Stefan Duplessis and supported by Lohan Marais and Jako van Lill.”

“[We will be implementing] the best research and technology methods in the industry. Bringing more flavoursome fruit to our customers sums up our innovation strategy and Icon Fruit represents the best stonefruit breeding programmes available in South Africa,” said Muylaert-Gelein.

Icon Fruit will export apricots, early, mid and late season varieties which includes the Buffat and Carmingo ranges. The peach offer also includes early, mid and late season varieties, in this case from the Sunworld, Zaiger and Bradford programmes.

Nectarine varieties, including Buffat, Zaiger, Bradford, as well as Provedo pluots, plums from Zaiger, ARC, Sunworld and Bradford, will also be exported.

Many of these ‘iconic’ varieties such as Flavorfall, Honey Punch and Cherry Plums are exported exclusively through Icon Fruit.

“Size does matter and consolidation will allow significant economies of scale throughout our value chain. We are continuously finding ways to maximise returns for farmers and customers alike. By being mainly producer-owned, with farms in Ladismith, Robertson and Ceres, Icon Fruit focuses on delivering a world class service to its producers by maximizing the financial potential of their fruit,” saidMuylaert-Gelein.