South African plums

Promotional activity for the South African stone fruit industry in the UK is underway and growers are optimistic about the season ahead.

While the 2019/20 season brought many challenges caused by difficult weather conditions and the coronavirus pandemic, this season is set to see an improvement in all aspects, with weather that has been advantageous for the fruit crops and ports returning to a more normal operational status.

Hortgro, the organisation which represents South Africa’s stonefruit industries, is to continue developing the plum, peach and nectarine categories in the UK through its integrated marketing initiative, which has now been running for 12 years.

“The stonefruit forecast and overall estimate volumes are looking much better compared to the same time last year,' said Jacques du Preez, general management of trade and markets at Hortgro. 'For plums in particular, the favourable weather conditions have definitely had a positive impact on fruit set for this coming season and we are optimistic about the harvest.”

The initial export crop estimates project an increase in volumes compared to the previous season.

Plum growers anticipate a large increase of 22 per cent compared with 2019/20 to 10.8m cartons, while nectarines are expected to increase from last year’s 5m cartons to almost 5.6m cartons (2.5kg) and peaches can expect a 5 per cent increase to 2.1m cartons.

The increased volumes are mainly driven by young orchards coming into production and more favourable weather conditions.

Collaboration with retailers will be one of the main focuses of this year’s campaign, which will see in-store promotions, advertising and editorial both online and in retailer magazines, alongside social media activity.

The stonefruit campaign will be supported by other trade and consumer-focused activities, including new recipe styling and photography, editorial and advertising, and social media.

“The South African stonefruit growers, packers and exporters remain committed to supplying consumers with excellent quality and great tasting products,' Du Preez added. 'The industry is confident that the logistical challenges experienced during the past year due to Covid-19 is something of the past and is looking forward to a great season.”