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Russia looks to SA for fresh produce

International Relations / General

A strong partnership between the two countries resulted in local farmers being able to export their harvest.

Russia continues to be an important market for South African fresh produce, says the Fresh Produce Exporters' Forum (FPEF).

FPEF CEO Anton Kruger said about ten percent out of 2.7 million tons of fresh fruit exported from South Africa goes to Russia.

Kruger was part of the Department of Trade and Industry’s (dti) delegation which is participating in the World Food Moscow trade fair which took place recently.

The dti-led delegation of businesspeople forms part of the department’s efforts to promote South Africa’s agro-processing industry in to consolidate and establish a market presence of South African goods in Russia.

Kruger said the South African pavilion at the fair added value for the FPEF, which is a voluntary, non-profit organisation with more than 130 members, accounting for about 90 percent of fresh produce exported from South Africa.

Kruger, who also represents the Export Council for the Fresh Produce Industry in South Africa, said since 2017, they have seen a steady export growth in pears, apples and table grapes, although the bulk of exports is still citrus.

He said the council is engaging with the Russian Chamber of Commerce and Industry and is addressing the labelling issue. This follows the decision by the Euro Agent Commission to introduce new labelling requirements. The decision added a lot of cost and additional efforts for South Africa to export its fresh produce.

Kruger said while 10 percent out of 2.7 million tons of fresh fruit is exported from South Africa to Russia, this took a dip in 2016 to around six percent as a result of the labelling requirements.

He said since 2017, the volumes have picked up again to reach 10 percent.

Kruger noted that there is potential for South African grown avocados to be exported to Russia.

“We noticed that there is a big opportunity for us to introduce avocados and test the Russian market,” said Kruger.

Last year the annual World Food Moscow hosted 1 433 exhibitors from 65 countries specialising in food and beverage products, with 78 percent of the exhibitors reporting that they had return of investment from exhibiting at the show.    

SAnews.gov.za