South African raisins in hand

Raisins South Africa has announced that shipment volumes to the UK are up on last year’s numbers, with Covid-19 being one of the main contributing factors.

“Retail figures are looking very positive and the current situation is definitely benefiting our industry, due to the rise in home baking and snacking,' confirmed Ferdie Botha, CEO of the non-profit company, which represents 700 growers. 'The assumption is that consumers are currently looking for product categories that are healthy, affordable, versatile and that have a good shelf-life, which raisins offer.”

Recent research by the Dried Fruit Association (DFA) revealed that more than a third (37 per cent) of UK consumers snack two to three times a day, with a further 25 per cent admitting to doing so even more frequently.

Boredom (34 per cent) was cited as the main reason for compulsive snacking, and these figures will have undoubtedly increased during the pandemic.

The DFA commented: “With our snack consumption rapidly on the rise, there is a growing need to ensure consumers make the right choices that will satisfy their hunger, as well as help them maintain a healthy lifestyle and reduce the risk of illness.”

More than 90 per cent of South African raisins are produced in the Orange River region, a geographical area with climatic conditions ideal for raisin production – extremely hot and dry, with an abundance of sunshine and water.

South Africa is forecast to increase raisin exports by 8 per cent to 64,600 tonnes in the 2019/20 marketing year, from 59,000 tonnes in the 2018/19, based on the increase in production and improved global demand.

This year, exports so far to the UK have increased by 46 per cent compared to 2019. Some 405 tonnes had been shipped to the UK in month four last year, compared to 591 tonnes in 2020.

Vittorio Friedmann, senior trader and key accounts manager at Voicevale Group, predicted an even further rise in demand if we go into a recession.

“UK manufacturers of products like cereals and on the go snacking lines will need to tighten budgets, and are therefore likely to increase the percentage of cheaper ingredients such as raisins.”

Marcus Welch, managing director at Ozgur Foods has also commented that they have seen a 60 per cent increase in demand for retail dried fruit since the start of Covid-19.