Rail services are coming to the rescue for South Africa’s citrus sector, which is currently undergoing a difficult period, after growing strongly in recent years. Exports jumped by 12% last year and a further 10% rise was forecast for this year but by mid-July the number of 15kg cartons shipped stood at just 62M, down 5M on the figure from the same time last year, according to World Cargo News. Following successful trials, Transnet has launched reefer rail services to transport fruit from cold storage warehouses to Durban’s container terminals.
The challenges for exporters include difficulties securing terminal slots for perishable cargo on the Port of Durban’s booking system. In addition, damage to the city’s road network inflicted by storms in April and May has still not all been repaired, making access to the port more challenging. What’s more, the EU now requires South African oranges to be stored at specific temperatures prior to and during shipping in order to prevent the import of false coddling moths. The Citrus Growers Association of Southern Africa has reported that containers of South African citrus fruit have been detained at EU ports and other reports suggest that they could be destroyed.