SA citrus exports to US up 50%

More South African citrus fruits will be heading to the US under a new agreement.

Early this month, the US government announced the opening of several new ports for South African citrus fruits.

The US department of agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service approved the use of additional ports for South African citrus on November 5.

The US embassy said the facilitation of the trade between the two countries provided flexibility to American retailers and wholesalers, lowering transportation costs and broadening the reach of South African citrus to other regions.

According to research, South Africa shipped a record of more than 77 000 tons of citrus fruits to the US this year – 68% more than last year.

Previously, the local citrus was limited to only four ports and had long sought access to other US ports.

Justin Chadwick, the CEO of the Citrus Growers Association of Southern Africa, said: “With this announcement, exports will be allowed to any US port that has cold storage facilities, including the strategically important ports of Charleston, South Carolina and Savannah, Georgia.

“South African farmers ship citrus duty free to the US under the African Growth and Opportunity Act trade preference programme,” indicated Chadwick.

The first edition of the Global Citrus Congress, co-organised by the World Citrus Organisation (WCO), the French Agricultural Research Centre for International Development and Fruitnet Media International, was held online on Thursday last week.

More than 1 300 participants from 60 countries took part.

During the congress, the WCO highlighted the economic and social impact of the citrus industry and its strong commitment to environmental and social sustainability.

“The consumption boom experienced since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, shows that consumers are aware of the health benefits of citrus, such as high vitamin C. These positive arguments are key factors to continue boosting the market and consumer demand. As the second wave of the pandemic reaches its peak in Europe, the importance of a healthy diet, including plenty of citrus fruits, should continue to be highlighted,” the WCO said.

The Summer Citrus from South Africa is a collaboration of nearly 300 South African growers that work together.

They define and adhere to the strictest quality and food safety standards to bring US consumers the finest citrus in the world.

Lana Marks, the US ambassador to South Africa said: “The opening of these new ports of destination for citrus will help facilitate trade between our two countries going forward, providing flexibility to US retailers and wholesalers, lowering transportation costs and broadening the reach of South African citrus to other regions within the US market.”

Chadwick added: “The opening up of all ports to South African citrus fruits means that the high quality, vitamin C rich fruits can now reach many more consumers in the US. We would like to thank all those who made this possible, including the US embassy and the South African embassy in Washington.”

Chadwick noted American shoppers sought citrus to help them strengthen their immune systems ahead of the fall and winter months in the US.

“The Summer Citrus from South Africa has accomplished a lot on the supply chain and logistics side: reducing cold treatment/shipment period from 24 days to 22 days, which has resulted in fresher fruits on grocery shelves in the US, securing shipments to the port of Houston, Texas, allowing access to service the Midwest [of the US] and even some states on the West Coast and moving towards a service provider for exporters in terms of quality standards, logistics, and supply chain aspects, as well as marketing and promotional efforts in the US,” said Suhanra Conradie, Summer Citrus from South Africa’s CEO.

Conradie pointed out while the business has grown by 60% the business model of managing supply and demand was really crucial.

“The US consumer is now used to year-round availability of almost any product, so it is very important to determine the window of opportunity for imported citrus.

“I am a strong believer in building successful and sustainable brands that have a certain look, feel, and commitment. I am proud to say we are selling a country with confidence,” he cautioned. -CityPress