South Africa’s 2019/20 grapefruit output is estimated to be up 4% to 387,000 tons, according to CGA data. The good crop is due to normal weather conditions, an increase in area planted and improved yields. Also, grapefruit production is cyclical, and 2018/19 MY was a down year. Grapefruit is normally harvested between March and September, and the impact of COVID-19 on production, harvest and labour has been minimal to date.
South Africa’s grapefruit exports are projected to grow by 5% to 270,000 tons this campaign, due to the larger crop, normal fruit sizes and suitable colouring for export market. Citrus has seen a surge in demand due to the assumed benefits of Vitamin C in boosting immunity against COVID-19. However, the impact of COVID-19 on consumer incomes, constraints on shipping lines and containers, and port restrictions remains a concern for South African exports. Europe is the largest market for South African grapefruit exports, accounting for 48% of total exports in 2019, followed by Asia (35%). Although South Africa has a free trade agreement with the European Union (EU) which allows duty-free access for its citrus exports, South Africa continues to face challenges due to Citrus Black Spot (CBS) and False Coddling Moth (FCM) in the EU market. Industry estimates that it is costing South Africa almost R1.8 Billion (US$97 Million) to address and comply with the CBS requirements in the EU market. Meanwhile, grapefruit exports to the US have been growing sharply in the past 5 years at an average of 65% per annum, from 76 tons in 2012/13 to 5,347 tons in 2018/19. Around 29% of the country’s total grapefruit output is used for processing. The volume destined for processing in 2019/20 is expected to increase by 3% to 110,000 tons, in line with the larger crop.