In what has been described as a ‘stormy’ campaign, the South African apple and pear industry has confirmed that exports will be lower than last season.

Apple exports will be down by 11 per cent, while pears will be 20 per cent lower than last year.

Hail during the early season caused significant damage in a number of production regions and has been the major reason for reduced export volumes.

“Ceres Fruit Growers, one of South Africa’s oldest fruit packing concerns, said they lost around 30 per cent of their crop in December and January,” explained Frederick Odendaal, manager producer services at CFG, in a general wrap of the season circulated by Hortgro.

The hail also hit other regions with Johan Kotze, general manager of Dutoit Agri in the Langkloof, describing damage as a “nightmare’ for the region.

So far this season apples volumes offered for the export market have dropped by around 5m cartons compared with last year.

It is estimated that 40.16m cartons will now be exported compared to last year’s 45.26m cartons.

Pear volumes are expected to drop from 21.2m cartons last year to 16.9m cartons.

It seems as if apple and pear volumes from Ceres have been more dramatically affected. On the positive side, Royal Gala/Gala volumes up to Week 25 are up by 7 per cent compared to the same period last year.

Apples exported to the UK and Europe declined by 26 per cent and 18 per cent respectively, Russia by 53 per cent, while volumes increased significantly to the Far East, the US and Canada.

Exports of pears declined to most markets, with a notable drop of 16 per cent in shipments to the EU so far this season.

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