Harvest: December - April
Fresh fruit market
Leading the pack among the grapefruit producing states is Limpopo. The province contributes around 59% of total production. Mpumalanga follows with 22% and KwaZulu-Natal with 10%. A mere 6% comes from the Northern Cape with the Western Cape contributing less than 1% of grapefruit. The Star Ruby variety, commanding the highest demand on a global scale, forms the bulk of the produce with 84% of production. The Marsh variety makes up 13%; with negligible amounts of the Rose, Redheart, Pomelit, Ja Shaddock, Flame, and Fe 1(Jackson) varieties.
Global demand for grapefruit, especially in Asia and the Middle East, is on the rise. The South African farmers have increased their cultivation of this rather profitable crop from 7,950 hectares in 2017/18 and covered almost 8,200 hectares in 2018/2019, an increase of 3%. In the face of higher than normal temperatures and severe aridity, the size of the fruit is smaller than average. Furthermore, since grapefruit follows a cyclical production pattern and 2018/19 corresponds with a lean period, the total production has fallen by a marginal 1% at 415,000 MT. The 2017/18 production was 419,000 MT. The decline in production has been somewhat mitigated by the increase in cultivation. However, the water levels in the dams, and prevailing drought conditions in some growing regions such as Letsitele in Limpopo, will severely impact the 2019/20 crop if there is inadequate rainfall by November 2019.
The EU is a major importer of grapefruit juice and concentrate. A favourite in the food industry for jams, fruit preserves, and marmalades, the inner peel is a source of pectin and citric acid. Many a beverage and soft drink use leftover pulp following commercial juice extraction as a preferred flavouring ingredient. Tonic water gets its signature flavour from naringin obtained from grapefruit peel, while the essential oil from the peel is used in scented fragrances. This year’s market forecasts a 26% jump to 160,000 MT of fruit delivered for processing as opposed to last year’s figure of 127,000 MT. The main reason behind this increased volume is the smaller fruit size and, with the increased production, a significant quantity of fruit that has not met the export criteria has been channelled into processing.
Market price USD 54.00 /kilo (White)
Market price USD 28.00 /kilo (Pink)