FNB’s analysis of the total value of sales of the selected fruit and vegetable commodities sold on South Africa’s major fresh produce markets shows a mixed trend during the first five months of 2020 relative to the same period in 2019.

Seasonal production uptick boosts sales

The total revenue from sales of the six fruit commodities under review showed declines for 67% of the total, except for avocados and grapes. The seasonal uptick in production volumes helped in lifting the total value of sales of avocados and grapes on local markets by 5,9 and 4,1% respectively year-on-year (y/y), with sales coming to R118,84 million and R192,01 million.

However, the total sales value for avocados and grapes fell by 4,3 and 5,4% respectively y/y since the COVID-19 lockdown to the end of May 2020, coming to R70,36 million and R100,46 million. Nonetheless, grapes enjoyed good export growth despite the global COVID-19 disruptions with total shipments for the year-to-date (YTD) pegged at 63,90 million cartons, which is 7% higher y/y.

Impact of demand contraction on sales

In the case of vegetables, the majority posted good growth in revenues for the YTD, except for potatoes and tomatoes that collectively account for 57% of the total annual volumes of vegetables sold on fresh produce markets. For the YTD, the value of sales for potatoes and tomatoes fell by 10 and 3% respectively y/y, with sales set at R1 549,39 million and R749,95 million. Since lockdown (March to May 2020), the total value of sales for potatoes and tomatoes fell by 14 and 7% respectively y/y, with sales coming to R860,69 million and R459,20 million, which reflects the impact of demand contraction on sales.

Latest price trends show that June 2020 started on a positive note for the vegetable market on the back of strong uptake, which coincided with the onset of level 3 lockdown. Potatoes were, however, the exception and continued to weaken, finishing last week slightly down by 1,2% week-on-week (w/w) and 5% lower y/y at R3,06/kg. – Paul Makube, FNB