South African raisin producers target UK market

South African raisin producers target UK market
22 Jan 2020

By Julian Gale | @JulianFoodNews |
The South African raisin industry is focused on targeting UK trade through a new promotional campaign, after conducting a study of the UK dried fruit market.
The research, carried out by Promar International, emphasised the opportunity for Raisins South Africa – a nonprofit company which represents 1,000 farms in the Northern and Western Cape – to communicate unique selling points to key industry players in the UK.

The industry celebrated 100 years since the  rst crop was produced in the Orange River region, where more than 90% of all South African raisins are grown. This area benefits from exceptional levels of sunshine, on average 10.5 hours every day between January and March, which is when the fruit is harvested and naturally sun-dried.

The hot, dry, sunny climate, along with the ample supply of water from the river, makes ideal growing conditions to produce the highest quality raisins. The naturally sun-dried grapes are available in many varieties, including Thompson, Flame and the Jumbo Golden. South Africa is the only country in the world to commercially produce Jumbo Golden raisins.

The UK is the largest global importer of dried fruit, buying around 106,000 tonnes every year. South Africa has a modest share of this with exports to the UK of just 4,000 tonnes. ‘Raisins South Africa’ is committed to increasing sales in the UK and hopes the integrated marketing and PR campaign will be the catalyst to achieve this.

Activities for 2020 will concentrate on up market retailers and the confectionery, convenience and snacking sectors. They include trade PR, online and print advertising, a trade trip to the Orange River production area in early March, and a video brochure delivery to key industry players and the trade media.

Ferdie Botha, chief executive of ‘Raisins South Africa’, said: “The UK is a traditional market for South African fresh produce and we believe that our current market share is significantly less than it should be. Along with keeping the market updated with industry developments, we will also work to emphasise the benefits of our exceptionally high-quality raisins.”

  • Raisins South Africa is promoted as being the mouthpiece of a new and transformed industry, in collaboration with government and other relevant stakeholders. These play a vital role in advancing growers’ interests.
  • South African raisins are produced in the Orange and Olifants river regions, which is in the Northern and Western Cape respectively. The Northern Cape Province accounts for at least 90% of the total annual production. The Western Cape accounts for the remaining 10%.
  • The three main varieties are Thompsons, Goldens, and Flames, but other varieties include Western Province and Orange River.
  • There are seven processors of South African raisins: the big four represent 85% of the total industry, two mid-size packers (14%) and one small but very focused supplier (1%)
  • There are 700 growers of South African raisins, working over 1,000 farms
  • Average temperatures during the harvesting/drying period are very warm and dry, ranging from 33- ْ 38 C. The maximum temperature can rise as high as ْ 45 C. Winters are cold early mornings and evenings, with frequent frost. Temperatures usually average 20- ْ 24 C, but can go as low as - ْ 8 C on extremely cold nights.
  • The Orange River region receives 150-180mm of rainfall per annum
  • Raisins are a ‘natural powerhouse’ packed full of nutrients, such as  bre, iron, calcium and antioxidants. Because most of the water is extracted from dried fruits, their nutrients are concentrated.
  • In all, 4% of South African dried fruit is exported to the UK market
  • Germany is the largest export market for South African raisins, because this market favours product that has zero or near to zero residues
  • South Africa is forecast to increase raisin exports by 8% to 64,600 tonnes in the 2019/20 marketing year, from 59,000 tonnes in 2018/19, based on the increase in production and improved global demand.