South Africa is set for a record pome fruit and table grape production in marketing year 2021/22. Favorable weather conditions, new areas under production, and higher yielding cultivars is driving the growth in production. However, rising shipping costs, an upsurge in input costs, local port inefficiencies and the impact of the Russia-Ukraine conflict on established trading patterns, are challenging South Africa’s exports of pome fruit and table grapes. As a result, profitability of the industry is under pressure which could limit future investments.
The area under apple production has increased steadily over the past decade with an average growth rate of more than one percent per annum. This positive trend has been driven by ongoing investments into the deciduous fruit sector on relatively high earnings and improved profitability from export markets. In addition, new and enhanced cultivars and better farming practices that includes investment in netting resulted in higher yields.
This trend continued in marketing year 2021/22 with apple area growing to approximately 25,500 hectares (ha) from 25,272 ha in MY 2020/21. This represents about 37 million apple trees. However, despite excellent production seasons in MY 2020/21 and MY 2021/22, that recorded historical high production volumes, the area under apples is expected to flatten in the near future. Accelerating farming input costs and higher shipping rates are diminishing the profitability of apple producers which will limit future investments in the industry.