South African farmers exporting fruit are being confronted by poor service delivery, negligence and incompetence at the nation’s ports. This results in producers suffering millions of rands in damage, the erosion of South African competitiveness in international markets and job losses in rural areas.
Of course, fruit has a limited shelf life and must meet super high standards to compete against products from Australia, Brazil, New Zealand, Argentina and other continents for a place on store shelves overseas. That is why inspectors visit farms at a high cost to the farmers to certify that their processes meet those standards. However, the state’s extensive inability fails the process.
For instance, table grapes in a container must be transported at -0,5˚C in a cold chain from the warehouse to the market in Europe or the US. Farmers pay for it, as well as for the packaging, insurance and handling of that fruit. However, the extremely poor handling of those containers in the ports means that thousands of tons of fruit have to be destroyed even before being loaded onto a ship.
The ports are not subjected to the same high standards as the producers. When thousands of tons of fruit are destroyed due to poor handling and negligence in the docks, the farmers lose the cargo and still have to pay for the packaging, administration, and logistics. One producer of table grapes in Vredenburg has already lost 18 containers of grapes from the 2022 harvest.
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