South African raisin export market reports upturn despite pandemic

Raisins South Africa, the non-profit company representing 700 growers, has reported that export volumes have registered an increase, with coronavirus cited as being a core factor in the market upturn.

The popular dried fruit has long been associated with the confectionery sector – most notably within chocolate ranges, as well as being favoured as a healthy snack in its own right.

Ferdie Botha, CEO of ‘Raisins South Africa’ noted the market growth trend for 2020 despite wider major disruption to food and drinks markets in many segments around the world.

He said: “Retail figures are looking very positive and the current situation is definitely benefitting our industry, due to the rise in home baking and snacking. The assumption is that consumers are currently looking for product categories that are healthy, affordable, versatile and that have a good shelf life, which raisins offer.”

Recent research by the Dried Fruit Association reveals we are a nation obsessed with snacking, with more than a third (37%) of Brits snacking two to three times a day, and a further 25% admitting to doing so even more frequently. Boredom (34%) was cited as the main reason for our compulsive snacking. These figures will have undoubtedly increased during the pandemic.

The DFA commented: “With our snack consumption rapidly on the rise, there is a growing need to ensure consumers make the right choices that will satisfy their hunger, as well as help them maintain a healthy lifestyle and reduce the risk of illness.”

Raisins are a ‘natural powerhouse’ packed full of nutrients, such as fibre, iron, calcium and antioxidants. Because most of the water is extracted from dried fruits, their nutrients are concentrated.

More than ninety percent of South African raisins are produced in the Orange River region, a unique geographical area with climatic conditions ideal for raisin production – extremely hot and dry, with an abundance of sunshine and water. The result are  naturally sundried, and largely residue free.

According to recent research, South Africa is forecast to increase raisin exports by 8% to 64,600 MT in the 2019/20 marketing year, from 59,000 MT in the 2018/19, based on the increase in production and improved global demand.

This year, exports so far to the UK have increased by 46% compared to 2019. 405 MT had been shipped to the UK in month four last year, compared to 591 MT in 2020.

Vittorio Friedmann, Senior Trader and Key Accounts Manager at Voicevale Group predicts an even further rise in demand if we go into a recession. He said: “UK manufacturers of products like cereals and on the go snacking lines will need to tighten budgets, and are therefore likely to increase the percentage of cheaper ingredients such as raisins.”

Marcus Welch, Managing Director at Ozgur Foods has also commented that they have seen a 60% increase in demand for retail dried fruit since the start of COVID-19.

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