Table of Contents


To be read along with the other fruit chapters in this publication e.g. “Citrus fruit”, “Deciduous fruit”, “Subtropical fruit”.


1. Overview

Fruits are edible products of a tree or other plant that contains seed and can be eaten as food. They are also known as an important source of vitamins and carbohydrates. The cultivation of fruits differs considerably in different places owing to physical properties of land, climate, rainfall, temperature, sunlight, cultural practices of the inhabitants, etc.

South Africa is a wealthy and diverse country consisting of different climatic conditions across the country. The different climatic conditions allow production of various fruits which include citrus, deciduous and subtropical fruit.

  • Citrus is mainly produced in the irrigation areas of the Limpopo, Eastern Cape, Western Cape, Mpumalanga, KwaZulu-Natal and the Northern Cape. (Find updates and news at
  • Deciduous fruit is grown mainly in the Western Cape, as well as in the Langkloof Valley in the Eastern Cape. Significant table and dried grapes production areas are also along the Orange River and in the Free State, Mpumalanga and Gauteng. (Find the fruit regions map and information at
  • Subtropical crops such as avocados, mangoes, bananas, litchis, guavas, pawpaws, and granadillas are produced mainly in Mpumalanga and Limpopo, as well as in the subtropical coastal areas of KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape. Pineapples are grown in the Eastern Cape and northern KwaZulu-Natal. (Find statistics at
Citrus Deciduous Subtropical Other
Oranges, grapefruit, lemons, easy peelers and limes Apples, apricots, pears, grapes (fresh and dried), plums, nectarines, peaches, quinces, cherries, Persimmons, pomegranates and figs Avocados, bananas, mangoes, litchis, papayas, papinos, granadillas, pineapples, guavas, loquats, melons and kiwi fruit Sweet and water melons, sour figs, prickly pears, custard apples, jack fruit and medlars

Note: Opinion is not unanimous regarding the category is which certain fruits like pomegranates are placed.

The fruit industry plays an important role in the agricultural sector through export earnings. It is estimated that about 70% of fruit products are exported to the global market and the remaining proportion is sold in the local market. Some fruits are processed into fruit juice and dry fruit.


2. International business environment

  • The world’s leading importers of fruit are the USA, Germany, Netherlands, UK, Russia, France, China, Canada and Belgium.
  • The world’s leading exporters of fruit are the USA, Spain, Chile, Netherlands, China, Italy, Turkey, Belgium, Mexico and South Africa.
Source: DAFF-NAMC International TradeProbe March 2016

The Bureau for Food and Agricultural Policy (BFAP)’s annual Baseline, which evaluates the performance of different South African fruit on the global market, gives a good impression of global conditions as pertains to the fruit industry. Find it at

South Africa: imports and exports

Find information on exporting fruit and the Exporters Directory at, website of the Fresh Produce Exporters Forum (FPEF).

  • A few hundred exporters sell South African fruit abroad. South African products compete against international role players, and in some cases against each other. The various industries, i.e. citrus, table grapes etc. have established industry representative bodies which look after the interest of producers and exporters, in order to optimise and co-ordinate export volumes to specific markets.
  • The exporting of fruit is subject to compliance with certain quality requirements and obtaining a Perishable Products Export Control Board (PPECB) export certificate. The PPECB is the official certification agency that ensures quality in the supply chain. It offers inspection services, logistical services, food safety auditing and certification services. Visit
  • The Directorate: Food Import and Export Standards at the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) can be contacted at 012 319 6118.


3. Local business environment

Technical information and overviews are available on role player websites listed in this chapter. Visit for example. The reader should also refer to the “Economic analyses” and “Statistical information” publications under “Branches” and "Administration" at See also the annual BFAP Baseline which evaluates the performance of different South African fruit at

  • South Africa is globally known for being a net exporter of citrus, deciduous and subtropical fruits.
  • Fruit is (i) exported (more than 50% of all agricultural exports from South Africa are fresh fruit) (ii) supplied to the local market, traded at wholesalers, formal municipal and metropolitan markets; (iii) supplied to processing plants for production of fruit concentrate, fruit juices and canned fruit; (iv) processed into dried fruits for both local and export markets.
  • Although there are some good news stories (see heading 4), integrating smallholder farmers who can benefit from export opportunities remains a challenge.
  • South Africa produces about 4.7 million tonnes of fruit each year, mostly in the Western Cape. About 60% is exported and 12% consumed locally, while 28% is processed.
  • The fruit industry is a vital earner of foreign exchange. It contributes about R30bn to the SA economy and supplies about 190 000 jobs.
Source: DAFF’s Agricultural Policy Action Plan 2015-2019; Dr Konanani Liphadzi (Fruit SA) at
The Agri Processing Index (API) developed by the Western Cape Department of Agriculture ranks the potential of some 130 different products, measuring employment potential, production performance and global market growth. Flavoured wine and other alcoholic beverages derived from fruit appeared at number four on the Top 20 products list, showing the potential of backing this product. The table was featured in a previous BFAP Baseline Agricultural Outlook (2015-2024).