Tru-Cape Abate Fetel pear label

Despite challenges, South African exporter Tru-Cape Fruit Marketing had a good season in 2021.

These challenges included fluctuating foreign-exchange rates, market lockdowns and major logistics headaches stemming from a lack of equipment availability, increasing shipping costs and massive delays.

“Low economic growth also weighed on us,” said Roelf Pienaar, managing director of Tru-Cape. “The good news is that this was a record year for Tru-Cape, with volume close to 18m cartons of fruit sold.

“We established the Tru-Cape brand in the Far East and Middle Eastern markets, and we saw good growth in apple sales to Europe. Close to 68 per cent of our sales are in foreign-exchange currencies with the bulk being in US Dollar.”

Heading into 2022, Pienaar said some significant challenges remain.

“While early days yet, we foresee that the logistical challenges will continue in the year ahead,” he explained. “We also expect inflation to rise in South Africa and globally and an even greater growth of the discounters who will want to push prices down for their customers.”

To mitigate the impact of downward price pressure on farm gate returns, Tru-Cape Marketing is looking at ways to unlock added value for growers.

“This will include consolidating and establishing join ventures within the value chain,” Pienaar said. “The possibility of greater market access in China for pears and Thailand for apples is also very positive.

“Our strategy continues to be getting closer to retailers and understanding the needs of our customers. It is important that we visit the markets in which we trade to fully understand the opportunities and risks. As much as Zoom and other virtual platforms have allowed us to continue to operate there is no real substitute for sitting across the table from someone and our teams have already began travelling again.”

Tru-Cape exports about 28 per cent of all South African apples and 22 per cent of South African pears to 105 countries.

“Over half our volume is sold on the African continent, including South Africa, and we are proud to sell our fruit into 51 out of 54 countries north of our borders, with the bulk going into West Africa and Nigeria, and the rest into Kenya and East Africa,” Pienaar said.