Marginal Growth for South Africa Grapefruit Crop

Josh McGill Crop Forecast, Grapefruit, International

South Africa is forecast to produce 385,000 metric tons (MT) of grapefruit in 2022–23, up marginally from an expected 380,000 MT the prior year. The forecast is from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service (USDA FAS). 

South Africa
Photo by Pixabay

The grapefruit planted area in South Africa grew by almost 25% over the past seven years. However, grapefruit area is expected to flatten in the coming years due to a softening in global demand along with rising input costs and higher shipping rates. USDA FAS forecasts marginal growth in grapefruit area to 9,250 hectares in 2022–23, up from 9,200 hectares the prior year.

The Limpopo province is the leading growing region for grapefruit in South Africa, accounting for 56% of the total area planted, followed by Mpumalanga (20%), KwaZulu-Natal (10%) and Northern Cape (6%) provinces. Star Ruby is the predominant cultivar planted, accounting for 88% of total area.

Grapefruit delivered for processing is expected to decline by 4% in 2022–23, to 132,000 MT. Grapefruit is processed to juice and concentrate, the majority of which is exported to Europe.

The leftover pulp from commercial juice extraction is an important source of grapefruit oil that is used as a flavoring agent in many soft drinks. The inner peel is a source of pectin and citric acid, which are both used by the food industry to preserve fruits, jams and marmalades. Naringin is also extracted from grapefruit peel and gives tonic water its distinctive bitter flavor. Grapefruit peel oil is used in scented fragrances.


Slight growth in grapefruit exports is expected in 2022–23, to 245,000 MT. Grapefruit exports the prior year were expected to be 235,000 MT.

The Russia-Ukraine conflict has affected the normal trading patterns
of South Africa’s grapefruit. Immediately after the conflict started, South Africa’s citrus shipments to Russia ceased. However, grapefruit exports to Russia have now resumed at a reduced pace as exporters, concerned about payments and shipping delays, explored other

China was the leading market for South African grapefruit exports in 2021–22, accounting for 27% of total exports, followed by the Netherlands (26%), Japan (10%) and Russia (8%). Grapefruit exports to the United States have been growing exponentially over the past 10 years, from 275 MT in 2010–11 to 8,827 MT in 2020–21.

In 2020–21, South Africa exported a record 290,607 MT of grapefruit.

South Africa is not a major importer of grapefruit as the industry is mainly export-orientated. Imports are expected to stay flat at around 1,000 MT in 2022–23.

See the full USDA FAS annual report on South African citrus here.

Source: USDA FAS

Share this Post

Sponsored Content