Mar 31

Dried Fruit SA industry launches initiative to educate consumers and expand local market

Dried Fruit South Africa campaign reminds South Africans of the real goodness of dried fruit

(Cape Town, South Africa) Growers in the dried fruit industry have joined forces to launch an initiative aimed at expanding the sector’s growth potential. The Dried Fruit South Africa campaign will focus on educating consumers on the benefits of dried fruit consumption as part of a balanced lifestyle and as a healthier snacking alternative. 

The founding members of the industry alliance behind the initiative include dried tree fruit growers represented by the Dried Tree Fruit (DTF) committee of the deciduous fruit industry body Hortgro, as well as vine fruit growers represented by Raisins SA. 

“Since agricultural marketing was deregulated more than twenty years ago, there wasn’t anyone driving generic marketing for dried fruit in South Africa,” says Handri Conradie, the DTF’s Vice Chairman. “By implication, it meant that as the health and wellness sector started expanding exponentially due to the prevalence of online content, there also wasn’t anyone making sure that the dried fruit category stood its ground.”

Conradie adds that with the growing global trend towards healthier snacking alternatives, dried fruit is ideally positioned to play a significant role in the local market: “Despite dried fruit being entrenched in the fabric of South Africa’s unique food heritage and culture, as an industry we were not proactively building on that already-strong position.”

He explains that the Dried Fruit South Africa campaign aims to re-educate consumers about some of the universal truths that the industry and its historical customer base took for granted. The campaign has been developed to appeal to a younger generation of health-conscious consumers while reminding South Africans of the many benefits related to including dried fruit into a balanced lifestyle. 

“Through the current membership base, the Dried Fruit South Africa initiative represents more than 90% of all dried fruit growers in South Africa,” says Ferdie Botha, General Manager of Raisins SA

“We are certain that as the Dried Fruit South Africa campaign rolls out, we will be seeing even more dried fruit growers coming on board. From the start, it’s been our vision to support the growth of the dried fruit market collectively, and we are excited at the prospect of eventually representing all dried fruit players.” 

With a combined market value of R3-billion, South Africa is amongst the world’s top 10 dried fruit producing countries worldwide and the largest in the Southern hemisphere. In terms of exports, South Africa is listed as the 5th largest dried fruit exporter worldwide.  

Raisin production accounts for more than 70% of South Africa’s total dried fruit production. More than 95% of dried fruit derived from tree fruits are produced in the Western Cape and Eastern Cape, while 92% of vine fruit and raisins are produced in the Northern Cape. This makes the sector an impactful vehicle for socio-economic growth in these regions. On a national level, the dried fruit market makes a significant contribution to job creation and poverty alleviation, especially amongst unskilled workers. With South Africa’s high unemployment rates, agricultural industries like the dried fruit sector generate economic activity, create jobs, earn foreign currency and stimulate rural economies in general. 

According to the latest statistics released by Hortgro, the annual turnover of the dried tree fruit industry is approximately R186-million. At least 1,300 hectares of apples, pears, apricots, peaches, nectarines, plums and prunes are destined for the dried fruit market and this industry sustains almost a 1,500 permanent equivalent job opportunities. In addition to these direct on-farm jobs, thousands more are created up and downstream in the supply chain. 

In the same vein, a socio-economic assessment report released by Raisins SA in 2019 shows that the local raisin industry – which produces 6% of the world’s raisins – contributed approximately R4.1-billion to GDP last year through its backward and forward economic linkages. The raisins industry also supported 30,110 jobs in South Africa throughout the wider value chain, including almost 16,100 unskilled workers. 

“The dried fruit sector holds much potential for growth, and by taking a proactive approach to re-introducing this product category to South African consumers, we believe the dried fruit industry as a whole will benefit greatly,” Botha concludes.