South African citrus values have dropped “alarmingly” so far this season compared with last year, according to Martin Dunnett, UK trading director of major exporter Capespan.
Dunnett warned that exporting fruit to the UK was close to becoming unprofitable. Wholesale market prices are languishing around the £5-a-carton mark - a full £1 less than a year ago. “The Navel season, which has now come to a close, has been tough because of competitive pricing,” he added.
However, Dunnett was optimistic about the latter part of the orange campaign, with Valencia Lates, Midknights and Deltas now beginning to arrive.
He added: “We are hearing reports that the Spanish Navelina season is delayed and will be off to a slow start in November. There are signs of plenty of large fruit there.”
But if the prospects for late South African citrus appear to be improving, this is not the case for apples.
Dunnett said cheap apples from southern hemisphere countries other than South Africa, such as New Zealand and Chile, were being shipped to the UK by importers in Europe - deflating prices and placing added pressure on growers, who are already feeling the pinch from poor growing conditions.
“We are on target to conclude our Golden Delicious season in about a fortnight,” he said. “The effect of the drought has reduced volumes from an expected one million cartons to 850,000.”
Granny Smith and Pink Lady varieties for supermarket customers will continue to come in until late October, he said.
David Shapley