The country’s apple and pear industry looks set to bounce back in 2024 after some disappointments last year

South African apple and pear growers are expecting an increase in exports this year, a welcome boost after a lower crop last year following to hail damage in some of the major fruit producing areas.

South Africa apples and pears

“The 2024 harvest season is already in full swing, a week to ten days earlier than last season,” said Hortgro, the industry organisation representing apple, pear and stonefruit growers.

“From a logistics standpoint, ports remain the most direct challenge to the sustainability of our producers,” the organisation continued. ”The favourable forecast is largely influenced by a good, cold, and wet winter with better weather conditions assisting fruit production.”

Apple exports were anticipated to increase by 7 per cent, mainly due to young orchards coming into production and the aforementioned conducive weather conditons.

Bicoloured red apples have showed an improvement on last year, with Big Bucks, branded as Flash Gala, leading the way with growth of 33 per cent. 

Gala (up 5 per cent) and Cripps Red (up 11 per cent) should further contribute to the overall volume increase.

Bigbucks has been favoured heavily by growers in recent years when it comes to new plantings and has had a good market reception, particularly in India and China.

Hortgro said there was also a positive outlook for Pink Lady volumes, which were expected to increase by 8 per cent, continuing the trend of the last few seasons.

The pear export outlook was more modest, Hortgro outlined, with an overall increase of only one per cent.

Abate Fetel volumes were set to decrease by 3 per cent due to the earlier harvest and some frost damage, it said, while Packham’s Triumph volumes would remain stable and the summer blushed pears such as Cheeky, Celina and Rosemarie should increase slightly.

Hortgro indicated concern over logistics and stated earlier this week that pressure on the port of Cape Town was set to increase because of the pear crop running earlier than last year.

“The industry is in constant communication with the relevant state-owned enterprises to ensure dependable and punctual supply of our tasty produce,” it added.