“Our own season is running 10 days late, so buyers are already waiting expectantly,” reported Martin Dunnett, procurement manager at Capespan, South Africa’s largest fruit marketing group.
Prices on the wholesale markets for the first small volumes of fruit have been about £12 for a 4.5kg carton - a third higher than last year.
The arrival in Sheerness next week of the first of three vessels prior to Christmas should begin to alleviate the situation. The Snow Flower will be carrying Prime, Sugarone, early Thompson as well as Flame Seedless from the Orange River.
Dunnett said he expected to be able to provide the UK with 500,000 cartons up to the start of the holiday period.
He said the initial delay meant the season could now last until the end of March.