The UK's demand for South African apples and pears is growing, with exports rising 9% in 2021

Business Insider SA
apples and pears
Demand for South Africa's apples and pears is rising in the UK. (Image: getty)
  • Demand for South African apples and pears is on the rise in the UK.
  • The UK reported a 35% increase in imports of South African pears this year.
  • It imported 6.1 million apples from South Africa.
  • It is South Africa's third-biggest export destination for apples.
  • For more stories go to

Despite the disruptions brought on by Brexit and the pandemic, the UK imported more South African grown pears and apples this year, according to data from Hortgro, South Africa's deciduous fruit grower organisation.

The UK's official exit out of the European Union at the start of the year has led to a plunge in exports and imports, leading to price spikes for some critical commodities. The world also continues to grapple with logistical challenges brought on by the pandemic-led global supply constraints.

Overall, South African apple and pear exports rose 9% in 2021, with 33 million cartons of apples and 15.5 million cartons of pears shipped across the globe.

But with 6.1 million apples exported to the UK this year it was the third-largest single export destination for apples from South Africa. Apples shipped to the UK accounted for 19% of South Africa's total exports.

South Africa exported 1 million units of apples to the UK, which was a surge of 36%, compared to 2020.

Jacques du Preez, Hortgro's general manager for trade and markets, said, despite logistical problems at ports and global disruption of logistical chains, South African pome fruit growers were able to display their agility to adapt to strenuous conditions.

"They still managed to deliver a phenomenal harvest — surpassing all expectations," Du Preez said.

South Africa's apples and pears also come into season during a crucial time when the fruit is off-season in the European region.

Hortgro is now marketing South African stone fruit in the UK, which came into season this month. The association's stone fruit UK campaign aims to highlight South African produce's leading quality and sustainability.

"It also promotes agriculture as a force for good in South Africa, where the deciduous fruit industry is key for job creation and contributes substantially to social welfare programmes in rural areas — thereby creating stability within the national context of high unemployment rates," Hortgro said.


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