Citrus grower visit April 2023 | South Africa



Mid-April, Eosta product managers Koen and Peke have been visiting our Nature & More Citrus growers in South Africa and they are happy to share the latest updates regarding the citrus season with you.  

N&M: Koen, could you give us an update regarding lemons and grapefruit? 
Koen: During the coming weeks, we expect a lot of organic lemons that arrive in our harbor.  The first shipment from North Cape is in our warehouse since the beginning of this week already. The products look very good from both the outside and the inside. The taste is delicious and each fruit contains 43% of juice. This percentage of juice is higher than the Spanish lemons that are in the market at the moment.  We expect the Spanish offer in the market will soon come to an end. 

Star Ruby Grapefruits are on their way from South Africa, which is right in time now the European market is basically empty. In the course of week 21 we expect the boxes of juicy south african grapefruits .












N&M: Peke, last year has been tough for our growers of oranges, what about the 2023 season?
Peke: I agree, last year has been a tough year for our growers of organic oranges. Challenges have been the lower prices, cold treatment, strikes in the Eastern Cape together with higher costs for transport. The expectation is that this year will be much better.  

The offer of the oranges produce has been a lot in quantity in 2022. For this year the offer is less however the costs have increased on the grower's side. Regarding cold treatment that has been introduced last year, we expect to be less affected by it. Everybody is well prepared by using organic carnauba wax. We have also met the producer and saw the production of the wax. The wax has been optimized and the expectations are positive in relation to cold treatment. 
The cold treatment introduced by the EU last year to protect against the False Codling Moth is still in place. Exporters can choose between two options: cold treatment between -1 C and 0 C for 16 days or between -1 C and +2 C for 20 days. In both cases, companies must pre-chill at 0 C or +2 C. South African authorities have interpreted this regulation more strictly, resulting in more stringent cold treatment for all types of citrus, except lemons. Under the regulation, South African exporters must ship other citrus fruits, such as grapefruit, at +4 degrees.

Oranges and grapefruits will be damaged if stored at very low temperatures. South African organic citrus growers have therefore decided to use an organic carnauba wax for organic oranges and organic grapefruits. Organic lemons and other soft citrus fruits are not coated.

We already started to sell good quantities of these oranges with perfect quality and a lot of juice! We c an fill in the gap between European and South African fruit which is about to be expected in week 24-25 in the Eosta warehouse. 

N&M: What about the mandarins?
Koen: The climate is excellent for the mandarins and the grower has already started to pack the products. Delicious organic Easy Pealers are increasingly being eaten by school children and as a snack, for example. Our season for South African mandarins is short, but it is completely pre-programmed. Eosta we only carry the top varieties Nadorcott and Tango from South Africa. The expectation is arrival on week 28/29 in our warehouse. 

Peke and Koen have spent time meeting many new people and potential future growers during their visit to South Africa, even more compared to previous years. It is important to spread the sourcing from several areas and suppliers. By doing this, we can assure continuous supply and we are not dependent on one supplier, harbor, part of the country etc. 

Regarding water management, our growers can take the water from the rivers but there is a water quota. The rule is that every grower can take a limited number of cubs per hectare. This is sufficient for our growers. 

Don't panic it's organic
There are significant differences between growing organic and non-organic citrus trees and consequently the transition can be tough! For our Nature & More grower it was a little easier due to the fact that a family member was already working according to organic principles. Madeline: “Andre's brother was already into organics when we started with citrus in 2000. After recognizing the advantages of organic production, we also decided to produce the citrus organically. We visited André’s brother regularly and realized the potential of our farm for organic production. Our remote location, far away from other farms and industry, means that there is no risk of outside contamination”.

One of the most positive side effects of organic agriculture is that it encourages and stimulates biodiversity. Many Nature and More growers are proud of the diverse range of birds, mammals and plants that can be found on their land and see it as a clear sign as to how “healthy” their orchards are.

Many practices used by Groenheuwel (and other organic farmers around the world) to increase productivity have the natural knock-on effect of increasing plant and animal life and maintaining natural biodiversity. For example in the case of organic citrus production:

  • Using compost or livestock manures increases the concentration of micro-organisms, earthworms, spiders and beetles in the soil
  • Prioritising indigenous breeds of plants and animals maintains the natural diversity of different areas
  • Introducing natural enemies of weeds and pests, rather than using chemical synthetic pesticides, helps to increase animal life


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