Mission in the Media
Cape Citrus Industry is Thriving in the United States
Translated from 'Kaapse sitrusfrugte floreer in America'
By Carin Smith
Die Burger, Thursday June 28, 2012
Cape Town – The shipping of seedless citrus fruit from the Cape to the U.S. is in full swing and the expectation is that altogether 42 000 tons or even 46 000 tons will be exported.
The U.S. Consul General in Cape Town, Erica Barks-Ruggles, accompanied by Gerrit van der Merwe, chairperson of the Western Cape Citrus Producers Forum (WCCPF) – a consortium of 350 producers in the Northern and Western Cape – yesterday visited Cape Town harbor to see how things were progressing.
This is the 13th season that the WCCPF is exporting to the U.S. In 1999 it started with only 50 tons.
For the past seven years the forum has forged ahead and contracted the ships themselves.
Between 10 and 12 ships are used on average every season at a cost of altogether R90 million. This year the tender was won by Universal Reefers.
This year’s citrus season commenced on June 25 and is expected to continue to around November 25. A ship with citrus fruit will depart the harbor approximately every 10 days and will arrive in the U.S. about 22 days later. American consumers pay about $40 (approximately R338) for a 15 kilogram carton of oranges.
Van der Merwe ascribes the success of the program to the producers of WCCPF who only export their very best fruit. As a result no one exports more than about 30% of their harvest to the U.S. The biggest competitor for citrus fruit from South Africa in the U.S. is Chile.
“The export standards for the U.S. market are the highest in the world,” Van der Merwe said.
“The U.S. export program is of big importance for economic growth in South Africa and our coordinated shipping and marketing campaigns contribute to our success.”
Barks-Ruggles ascribes the success of the export plan to the good mutual cooperation between the public and the private sector in South Africa and the U.S. “We are pleased about the jobs created by this program in both countries. Trade always benefits both sides. The South African citrus season complements the American citrus season. To give an example, when I was a child there were no citrus fruits available during our summer months,” she said.