South African stonefruit birds eye crate

South African deciduous organisation Hortgro has reflected on one of its most successful stonefruit seasons to date from a volume perspective.

During the 2020/21 season, the campaign saw a large increase of 71 per cent for South African plum exports worldwide to 15.2m cartons.

This season also saw a 29 per cent increase in nectarine exports to 6.5m cartons, with the UK taking 50 per cent of that volume, while peach exports increased by 22 per cent to 2.4 m cartons, with the UK taking 41 per cent.

“You will always have exceptions due to climatic conditions differing between the various production regions and even within a region, but we had a near-perfect season from a production point of view,' said Hortgro's Jacques du Preez.

'After the ongoing drought of the previous seasons most factors worked in our favour: we had enough irrigation water in most regions and experienced a good winter, we had a mild spring and summer with no heatwaves that have caused problems in the past and fruit set, quality and packouts were really good,' he added. 'A number of orchards planted in the last three years also proved their potential this year.”

The UK stonefruit marketing campaign focused on targeting shoppers through online activity and in-store promotions with leading retailers.

Digital banners appeared on the grocery sites, increasing the online exposure of South Africa’s fresh produce to boost sales.

Further activity with retailers included front of store shroud units, on-pack labels and recipe tear-off cards in stores, all aiming to drive awareness and sales of South Africa’s premium and volume stonefruit lines.

Apples and pears next up

The growers are looking ahead to their apple and pear season as South African lines start to arrive in the UK.

The South African apple and pear UK campaign, now in its 13th year, has begun with the release of new seasonal recipes, and will also see support and coverage in consumer media publications both online and on social media.

These promotions will be supported by printed advertorials in retailer magazines that showcase the health benefits and versatility of the fruit.

The campaign will also target the UK fresh produce industry through advertising in leading trade titles.

It is estimated that the South African apple and pear season will see a 5 per cent increase from last year in apple exports to 38.4m cartons, and a 6 per cent increase in pear exports to 17.9m cartons.

These above-average volumes are mainly driven by young orchards coming into production and more favourable weather conditions throughout the winter and summer.