South African

South African Grapefruit Production

Daniel CooperCrop Forecast, Grapefruit, International

South African
Photo by SHVETS production

Grapefruit is an unpopular citrus fruit in the South African domestic market, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service (USDA FAS) reported recently. Consequently, only 5,000 metric tons (MT) of an expected 400,000 MT grapefruit crop in 2023–24 is forecast to be consumed in the country. The majority of South Africa’s grapefruit is expected to be exported.

The production forecast is 5% less than in the prior season. But the 230,000 MT of expected exports would be an increase of 6% over the prior season.


USDA FAS forecasts grapefruit acreage in 2023–24 will remain unchanged at 8,450 hectares due to minimal plantings and uprooted old orchards. Budwood sales of grapefruit are on a downward trend as producers are observed to be moving toward mandarin varieties.

South Africa’s grapefruit area peaked at around 9,900 hectares in 2011–12. This growth was mainly driven by a surge in global demand, especially in Europe, Asia and the Middle East. However, since 2012–13, growth has declined at an annual average of 1% and is expected to flatten in the coming years due to softening global demand.

Star Ruby is the predominant grapefruit cultivar planted, accounting for 88% of total area.


Local processing of grapefruit offers an alternative to exports. USDA FAS forecasts that in 2023–24 grapefruit processing will drop by 17% year-on-year, based on higher exports.Grapefruit is processed to juice and concentrate, the majority of which is exported to Europe.


China was the leading market for South African grapefruit exports in 2021–22, accounting for 27% of foreign sales that year. China was followed by the Netherlands (27%), Japan (10%) and Russia (8%). Together, these four countries represented more than 70% of South Africa’s total exports of grapefruit in 2021–22.

South Africa is not a major importer of grapefruit as supply far exceeds domestic demand. The country is projected to import 5,000 MT of grapefruit in 2023–24.

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

Source: USDA FAS

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