Cold weather in South Africa’s Western Cape has delayed the start of the stone fruit season and reduced volumes, producers have reported.

Apricot production is expected to be down 5% this season to 798,000 cartons, with peaches falling 6% to 933,000 cartons and plums down 3% to 8.6 million cartons, according to Capespan. Nectarine volumes, however, would be up 11% to 2.83 million cartons.

The UK remains a key export market for South African produce, but British supermarkets are not expected to be affected by the lower volumes.

However Capespan regional manager for stone fruit and grapes, Niel Hugo, railed against the UK retail culture of discounting ­prices.

Producers expected 2009 to be a particularly challenging time, he said, with production and packaging costs already 35% higher than last season.