Grapefruit Making Strides in South Africa

Ernie NeffGrapefruit, International

grapefruit
Star Ruby grapefruit

The production of grapefruit in South Africa is estimated to increase by 8% in 2020-21 from the prior year, to 373,000 metric tons, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service (USDA/FAS) reported in June.

The area planted to grapefruit is expected to increase by 5% to 8,700 hectares. The predominant variety planted in South Africa is the Star Ruby, accounting for 84% of the area planted due to its high global demand. The fruit is normally harvested between March and September.

CONSUMPTION
Consumption in South Africa is estimated to increase to 8,500 metric tons in 2020-21. This is based on the increase in production and to the growing awareness and perceived health benefits of grapefruit in the domestic market. The USDA/FAS noted that grapefruit is not a very popular citrus fruit in the domestic market. Many consumers are largely unfamiliar with its qualities and taste. Fresh per capita consumption of the fruit in South Africa is relatively low.

On average, 29% of total grapefruit in South Africa is used for processing.

TRADE
Grapefruit exports are expected to increase by 7% to 260,000 metric tons in 2020-21. Citrus has seen a surge in demand due to the assumed benefits of vitamin C in boosting immunity against COVID-19. Europe is the largest market for South African grapefruit exports, accounting for 42% of total exports. Asia gets 39% of the country’s exports.

Although total volumes are still low, exports of the fruit to the United States have been growing exponentially by an average of 65% annually in the past five years. Exports to the U.S. have zoomed from 76 metric tons in 2012-13 to 5,310 metric tons in 2019-20. Exports to the U.S. are expected to continue rising.

See the full USDA/FAS report on South Africa.

Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service

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