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South Africa prepares first citrus exports to the Philippines after trade deal

By Akhona Matshoba and Tanisha Heiberg

JOHANNESBURG, June 9 (Reuters) – South Africa is preparing its first shipments of citrus fruit to the Philippines after 12 years of negotiations finally resulted in a trade deal for the sector last year, its industry body said on Wednesday.

The export deal will see 20,000 tonnes of citrus fruit a year exported to the new market, raking in about 200 million rand ($14.75 million) in revenue over the next five years, Justin Chadwick, chief executive of the Citrus Growers Association, told Reuters.

South Africa, the world’s second largest exporter of fresh citrus after Spain, exported a record 146 million cartons of citrus including oranges, lemons and grapefruits in 2020, with European markets the biggest recipients of the fruit.

Chadwick said the industry expects to log another record year this year with shipments of around 160 million cartons, and forecasts growth at 10 million cartons per year for the next decade.

“The industry is growing,” Chadwick said. “We’ve got a big crop this year to export, and we need every single market we can get to take pressure off the existing markets that we have, so this gives us another avenue.”

Chadwick said the first shipments of fruit were currently going through pre-cooling testing processes and should land in the Philippines next month.

“The opening of the Philippines is a positive move, especially as we expect South Africa’s citrus exports to expand by more than 50% from the current volume in 2030,” said Agricultural Business Chamber Chief Economist Wandile Sihlobo.

Chadwick said the industry was also looking to access new markets in Vietnam.

($1 = 13.5635 rand) (Reporting by Tanisha Heiberg and Akhona Matshoba; Editing by Jan Harvey)

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