South African Grapefruit Growth Continues

Josh McGill Grapefruit, International

The growth in South African grapefruit plantings is expected to continue in 2021–22, increasing by 3% to 9,200 hectares, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service (USDA/FAS) stated in a recent report. The area planted to grapefruit grew by 25% over the past seven years.

South African Grapefruit

Limpopo province is the leading growing region for grapefruit in the country, accounting for 56% of the total planted area. It is followed by Mpumalanga at 20%. Due to its high global demand, Star Ruby is the predominant cultivar planted, accounting for 88% of total area.

Grapefruit production is expected to grow by 8% in 2021–22, to 380,000 metric tons (MT).

Local grapefruit consumption in 2021–22 is forecast to stay at the same level as last year, around 9,000 MT. Grapefruit is not a very popular citrus fruit in the South African domestic market. Many consumers are largely unfamiliar with its qualities and taste. Per capita fresh grapefruit consumption is relatively low, at less than one kilogram per annum.

About 25% of total grapefruit production is used for processing. Grapefruit delivered for processing is expected to rise to 97,000 MT in 2021–22 due to an expected decline in exports. Last year, the volume of grapefruit for processing dropped to 53,000 MT due to record levels of exports that offered better prices to producers. Two years ago, an estimated 94,000 MT of grapefruit were processed.

Grapefruit exports are expected to drop by 5% in 2021–22, to 275,000 MT. China accounted for 27% of total exports in 2020–21, followed by the Netherlands, accounting for 25% of exports. South Africa has a free trade agreement with the European Union (EU) but continues to face phytosanitary challenges in that market due to the prevalence of citrus black spot and false codling moth.

South Africa is not a major importer of grapefruit.  

See the full USDA/FAS report on South Africa’s citrus industry.

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

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