Promotional activity for the South African stone fruit industry is underway, and growers are optimistic about the season ahead.
The 2018/19 season brought many challenges after last year’s drought caused damage to early crops, which impacted fruit size, quality and volume. This year, however, is set to see an improvement in all aspects.
Hortgro, the organisation that represents South Africa’s stone and top fruit industries, will continue to develop the plum, peach, nectarine, apple and pear categories in the UK through their integrated marketing initiative, which has now been running for 11 years.
“The Beautiful, Country, Beautiful Fruit campaign is an essential vehicle for growing the South African fruit market in the UK and engaging with stakeholders throughout the supply chain," says André Smit, Hortgro Stone Chairman, said. "We were faced with many challenges during the previous season, but the stone fruit industry is looking forward to the 2019/20 season and remains committed to supplying consumers with good quality and great tasting products.”
Collaboration with retailers will be one of the main focuses during this year’s campaign, which will include in-store promotions, advertising and editorial online and in retailer magazines, head office sampling and social media activity.
South African stone fruit and top fruit will be supported by other activities, including recipe styling and photography, consumer and trade editorial and advertising, social media, recipes videos and media gift boxes.
Generic initiatives South African Young Chef of the Year and Help a South African School will continue to run this season.
Young chefs under 25 will be invited to submit a main course recipe, using two South African stone fruits. A panel of judges will select six finalists to go through to a cook-off final at Westminster Kingsway College. Prior to the cook-off, the finalists will visit a top London-based, South African restaurant to learn how to create a South African dessert using top fruit. During the cook-off, finalists will be asked to create the main dish they submitted on entry. The second part of the event will see the young chefs re-creating the dessert they learnt at the restaurant visit. Judges will choose a winner, who’ll fly out to South Africa for a week’s stage with award-winning restaurants, Reuben’s and La Petite Colombe. *
The schools project encourages UK primary schools to donate unwanted reading and language books to deprived children in South Africa. A competition will also run alongside the donation initiative, which invites UK primary classes to submit a piece of art, which will depict how they like to eat South African fruit. Classes have full creative license to submit any type of art, whether it be in the form of words, drawings, sculptures, paintings, videos or images.
Their creation must, however, showcase an understanding of: why South African fruit is unique, how they’re supporting the country by choosing to eat their fruit, an understanding of how the fruit can be used in many nutritious recipes, and how they like to eat South African fruit. The winning class will receive £1,000 to go towards school resources and a ‘Gastronaut Live’ show by children’s BBC presenter, Stefan Gates.
The initial export crop estimate projects an increase in volumes compared to the previous season. Nectarines are expected to increase from last year’s 4 million cartons to almost 4.7 million cartons (2.5kg). Peaches can expect a 6% increase to 1.9 million cartons. Plum growers anticipate an increase of 15% compared to last season, to 10.1 million cartons. At this stage, the increased volumes are mainly driven by young orchards coming into production and producers having more available irrigation water.