Gerrit van der Merwe senior and junior

Gerrit van der Merwe senior (left) with his son

Summer Citrus from South Africa (SCSA), the group representing growers marketing to the US, has said that it is entering the new year 'with heavy hearts' following the recent passing of its founder Gerrit van der Merwe, who passed away on 19 December.

In 1999, shortly after South African citrus growers started exporting limited volumes to the US, van der Merwe strongly advocated for a 'model of collaboration' with growers. While not everyone felt this was ideal, given the recent deregulation of fruit in South Africa, Gerrit proceeded with passion, knowing that there was more in store for the collective efforts of South African growers and US importers.

He soon became well-known in the US, and as business grew, so did a collaborative approach between growers and importers. He was determined that serving the world’s demanding market required growers to work together – and he was right, SCSA confirmed.

What started with very informal conversations about collectively seeking economies of scale soon evolved into long-term logistical agreements between South Africa and the US.

Van der Merwe was a strong advocate of a commitment to both supply and demand, which is still SCSA’s business model today.

Additionally, van der Merwe was instrumental in evolving the brand, based on his belief that retailers should know why SCSA is the world’s finest summer citrus available.

“We’re saddened to lose a mentor and friend but know that Gerrit’s legacy will continue to live on for South African citrus growers,” saidSuhanra Conradie, CEO of Summer Citrus from South Africa. “Wehave gained a lot of momentum with Gerrit’s initiative for our collaborative approach and intend to keep it going.”