At Hi-veld Fruit Packers in Ermelo, on a typically icy day (in mid-summer) on the Highveld, the Royal Gala crop from orchards in the Ermelo-Morgenzon-Amersfoort area are being packed. It’s been a mild early summer, tropical storm Eloise didn’t cause the rain it did in the Lowveld, and the packouts of the apples are looking really very good, notes Ryk Pretorius, director of Hi-veld Fruit Packers.

“We’re very excited about our packouts. The cool weather currently will definitely help with the fruit’s holding ability.“

Packing early Royal Gala (photos supplied by Ryk Pretorius)

There aren’t a lot of apples on the market, and the season started a week late for Hi-veld Fruit Packers’ growers. Demand for freshly-harvested apples is strong, On the municipal markets apples command an average of almost R10/kg at the moment and from the supermarkets the prices they’re seeing are “very promising”, Ryk says.

Hi-Veld Fruit Packers market their apples themselves locally, a balancing act between the different retailers and the municipal markets.

In the Mpumalanga and Free State apple areas there are no CA rooms to store apples.

Their raison d’être is to open each cultivar ahead of the Western Cape; next up are red apples (for the domestic market) and a bit later Fujis. Pink Lady is more than two months away.

Export focus on the Middle East, Asia & Africa
Their exports are handled by a variety of exporters, starting with Royal Gala to Bangladesh and Malaysia to be shipped by around the end of next week.

“Our first exports are usually to the East. The prices are good, payment is quicker and the requirements are just more comfortable.”

They don’t service the traditional markets of Europe and the UK. “I can’t remember the last time we sent fruit to Europe. We focus on Asia, the Middle East, and Africa, places like Kenya, although not to Kenya at the moment because of Covid.”

He notes that Covid had caused a lot of disruption in payment flows last year, on some transactions they had to wait three months to be paid. The strong domestic market for early apples is a lower-risk prospect than exports.

For more information:
Ryk Pretorius
Hi-veld Fruit Packers
Tel: + 27 82 853 8307


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