Clean South African raisins prove a hit in the German market
The clean, low-residue qualities of South African raisins are the focus of the industry’s promotional push in Germany this season.
Germany is the largest export market for South African raisins, with the country’s buyers and consumers valuing product with the lowest residue levels possible. That makes South Africa an attractive source, as the hot, dry climate of the Orange and Olifants River regions means disease and pest pressure is lower, and thanks to good biological practices and control, fewer chemicals are needed.
South African raisins are natural and sundried, with growers having invested in farming techniques and developed corporate strategies aimed at protecting the environment, public health and local communities.
“We have an excellent relationship with the German market,” said Ferdie Botha, chief executive of Raisins South Africa. “Our growers have worked extremely hard to develop production systems that operate in harmony with nature and with minimal residues, and that chimes with German consumers’ desire to buy the cleanest produce. We look forward to continuing to develop this close partnership and growing the market further.”
The current production season is proving a challenging one, with crop losses of 20 percent due to flooding and above-average rainfall. Despite that, the total marketable volume for the season is estimated at 67,000 metric tonnes, which is slightly above last year’s figure. South Africa is furthermore a source of prized golden raisins, which are difficult to obtain from other sources.
The plentiful export volumes will allow Raisins South Africa to fully pursue its promotional aims in Germany, which focus on trade and B2B.
Trade buyers and press from Germany and the UK will also be taken to the Northern Cape in November to showcase the work of the industry and continue to build long-term relationships.
All of these initiatives are helping change misconceptions around dried fruit in general, according to Botha. “Dried fruit has received a lot of negative media,” he explained. “We’ve come a long way over the past two to three years to work on changing this perception and communicate the benefits of our product category. Behind the scenes we are working with various origins to showcase the benefits associated with the consumption of dried fruit.”
- The UK promotional campaign is run by Non-Profit-Company, Raisins South Africa.
- Raisins South Africa is the mouthpiece of a new and transformed industry, in collaboration with government and other relevant stakeholders. They play a vital role in advancing growers’ interests.
- South African raisins are produced in the Orange and Olifants river regions, which is in the Northern and Western Cape respectively. The Northern Cape Province accounts for at least 88 percent of the total annual production. The Western Cape accounts for the remaining 12 percent.
- These regions experience exceptional levels of sunshine, on average 10.5 hours every day between January and March, which is when the fruit is harvested and naturally sundried. The normally dry, sunny climate, along with the ample supply of water from the rivers, makes ideal growing conditions to produce the highest quality raisins with world-leading shelf life, colour and flavour.
- The three main varieties are Merbein Seedless, Sultana Seedless and Selma Pete, but other varieties include Sugra 39 and Flame Seedless. The main product produced is Thompsons, Goldens, SA Sultana (previously known as WP) and Orange River (OR Sultana).
- There are seven processors of South African raisins: the big four represent 85 percent of the total industry, two mid-size packers (14 percent) and one small but very focused supplier (1 percent).
- There are 700 growers of South African raisins, working in over 1,000 farms.
- Average temperatures during harvesting/drying period are very warm and dry, ranging from 33 to 38 degrees Celsius. The maximum temperature can rise as high as 45 degrees Celsius. Winters are cold early mornings and evenings, with frequent frost. Temperatures usually average 20 to 24 degrees Celsius, but can go as low as minus 8 degrees Celsius for extreme cold nights.
- The Orange River region normally receives 150 to 180 millimetres of rainfall per annum.
- Raisins are a ›natural powerhouse‹ packed full of nutrients, such as fibre, iron, calcium, and antioxidants. Because most of the water is extracted from dried fruits, their nutrients are concentrated.
- 20 to 25 percent of South African dried fruit is exported to the German market.
- Germany is the largest export market for South African raisins, due to the market favouring product that has no or minimum residues.