Aggressive cherry expansion within the Dutoit group in the Koue Bokkeveld over the last four to five years – in some cases replacing uneconomical apple orchards – is coming to fruition, and a plateau in volume growth is not expected for some years.
“As long as the world market remains insatiable for cherries, we’ll continue planting,” says Tanith Freeman, Dutoit’s product development manager.
“For a long time we’ve been telling people ‘watch this space’ and now it’s starting to become a reality.”
Apart from a cool springtime that has retarded ripening, and caused a delay of more than a week in the cherry calendar, the weather has been kind and the cherries’ quality is “fantastic”, Tanith says. “We’re very happy with the quality.”
Delay in season holds up prices
The delay has in fact proved a benefit, notes Julia Bouwsema, Dutoit marketing manager of cherries and stone fruit. “Prices remain stable as cherries remain in big demand in all the markets.”
Their focus is still Europe and the UK, she says, where Dutoit Agri solely enters an empty market before Chile, Argentina and Australia join.
"Feedback on our cherries has been unbelievable"
The volumes they have on their hands this year have allowed them to re-enter some markets.
“In Malaysia, Europe and the UK our Cherry Time cherries are received very favourably. We offer a really good cherry with excellent shelf life and taste and the feedback has been unbelievable.”
They are flying cherries to these destinations (that in itself a big challenge, Julia says), as well as to Kenya, Mauritius and Réunion, similarly benefiting from the growth in volume.
Indonesia and Taiwan are also markets open for development, while China remains closed for South African cherries.
"It's a lovely product to work with, especially this year"
They’re in their third week of seafreighting cherries to the UK, while still flying cherries into Europe and Far East. The positive news is that more direct flights will resume between Cape Town and Europe in the coming weeks.
The season will run into the first or second week of January, a later end than usual.
“The volumes we have this year have really opened doors for us,” Julia says. “It’s a lovely product to work with, especially this year."
Julia Bouwsema & Tanith Freeman – Cherry Time Dutoit
Author: Carolize Jansen