South Africa: R325m Lemon Export to China Begins

South Africa has recorded its first shipment of lemons to China, beginning a new chapter in the citrus trade industry. This milestone was marked by the country’s minister of agriculture, land reform and rural development Thoko Didiza who was in Durban to celebrate one of the first shipments to sail from the port, opening up a R325m trade line with China.

In 2021, South Africa and China signed a lemon protocol that stipulated recommended temperature and duration for the fruits to be kept during shipment. Previously, all South African citrus exports were required to undergo cold treatment at or below −0.6 degrees Celsius for at least 24 days to eliminate fruit flies and false codling moths.

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This minister, while inspecting the outgoing shipment with the leadership of the Citrus Growers Association, applauded its agreement with China. “It means China will now become a critical new market for this growth and will secure R325m (US$21.6m) in new export revenue and 800 new jobs in the industry,” he said.

Last year, South Africa exported 163 million cartons of citrus fruits globally, with the United Kingdom and Europe receiving half of that shipment. Its new relationship with China is projected to grow the market by a further 500,000 tonnes within the next three to five years.

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