Improved market intelligence in the South African fresh fruit industry

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATORS: Nkosana Mbokane  and Stefan Conradie
Nkosana Mbokane: +27 21 930 1134/
Jacques du Preez, +27 21 870 2900
DURATION: Three years
LEAD INSTITUTIONS: Perishable Products Export Control Board and Hortgro Services
Beneficiary: All fruit sectors

Deregulation of the South African fresh fruit export industry in 1997 led to the fragmentation of information systems and standards. The lack of electronic data flow meant that accurate and reliable market information could not be accessed in time to ensure informed decision-making. Shipping and inspection data was not immediately available and export and phytosanitary certificates were not issued electronically. These challenges incurred unnecessary costs and contributed to inefficiencies. It also caused South Africa to lag behind Chile, one of its main Southern Hemisphere competitors, in terms of market intelligence.

Electronic data flow to improve market intelligence

An electronic data flow project was initiated to improve the market intelligence of the South African fresh fruit industry. The project was co-sponsored by the Post-Harvest Innovation Programme, the South African Apple and Pear Producers’ Association (SAAPPA), the South African Stone Fruit Producers’ Association (SAPA) and the Citrus Growers’ Association (CGA).

  • The project was a collaborated effort between the South African citrus and deciduous fruit industries, the Perishable Products Export Control Board (PPECB) and leading information service providers.
  • Project objectives were to deliver shipping and inspection data electronically to the PPECB from pack houses throughout South Africa, to make this information available to producers and exporters within a week after shipment and to ensure that fruit export and phytosanitary certificates are generated electronically.
  • A significant component of the project was to standardise electronic fields and codes to create a language for mutual information exchange between all the service providers within the fresh fruit industry.
  • Duplication was eliminated and a clear, unambiguous electronic language was created with the help of service providers in the deciduous fruit industry – Paltrack, 5-Degrees, Far Soft, Dipar, RBR, MJIT, Kromco and Fruitways.
  • At present, six information service providers (contracted by the citrus, pome and stone fruit industries) facilitate the flow of detailed shipping and inspection data, on a weekly basis, from 1400 countrywide loading points.
  • All the information is delivered to the PPECB, which acts as the central hub for data collection.

Outcome of study and benefits to industry

  • The PPECB is the custodian of the new system, which issues export certificates and generates export data electronically.
  • Shipping and inspection data is now available within five days of shipment to industry stakeholders. This leaves enough time to influence marketing decisions for the following week.
  • Shipping information is also delivered early to markets importing fruit from South Africa, enabling them to plan sales strategies in advance.
  • South Africa is now able to compete on equal footing with Chile in terms of market intelligence.
  • Better market intelligence increases market stability and protects the industry against major price fluctuations.
  • The hope and intent is that the project will help to ensure the profitability and sustainability of the South African fresh fruit industry by making accurate and real-time market information available.