MOST SOUTH AFRICANS know the country is one of the world’s leading wine producers (ninth biggest) and that a large volume of its annual production is exported. The export portion of about 38% of total wine produced makes SA one of the world’s main exporters. Many people also know that SA is an excellent fruit producer and exports so much that the fruit groups and the wine producers together account for the major share of agricultural exports worth around R30bn.
However, SA is also one of the largest exporters of dried fruit and more than 55% of its total production (2006 figures) is destined for world markets. Department of Agriculture’s 2007 survey of agricultural trends reported that 48 694 t of dried fruit were produced last year, with grape products (such as raisins) by far the most dominant group at 44 000 t. Plums, apricots, apples, peaches, pears and figs share the remainder.
But where does all that dried fruit go? Europe, which bought about 45% of SA’s dried-fruit exports in 2006, remains the largest importer. However, that region is rapidly being overtaken by Canada and the United States, which now jointly absorb 37% of exports. The rest goes to Australia and New Zealand (8%), the Far East (6%) and Africa and the Middle East (4%).
An analysis of the portion of SA’s total dried fruit production going overseas shows the total is gradually falling. The peak was in 2003, when 85% of total production was exported.