First feedback from African exporters
First dispatches from the field
ACP exporters are concerned. Several companies with which we are in regular contact have informed us of the immediate decline in their orders as a result of the COVID-19 context. Some say that many export markets around the world are closing. This is the case in Ethiopia, Madagascar, Kenya, Ghana. Only a few niche markets remain.
This is currently mainly due to the decline or even closure of cargo and air hubs.
More information in the next update.
First dispatches in the press
With some European countries on lockdown, mango exporters such as MakolaHub Fresh in Ghana are finding new contacts made at February’s Fruit Logistica are now having to cancel orders (see Fresh Plaza, 17 March 2020). Catering orders were down 30 per cent and dropping daily as the virus puts pressure on the market in Europe. If the virus continues for quite some time, MakolaHub will need to find other markets: “We will look for buyers in new markets like the Middle East, although they’ve been hit badly by the virus as well. We will just have to ride it out and hope the warmer weather brings and end to the virus. Luckily our mango season starts in May–June when the weather is warmer in Europe,” said Alex Kravecas, owner of MakolaHub.
Amidst the far-reaching measures introduced by the South African Government to stop the spread of the coronavirus, the South African fruit and citrus industry is entering the 2020 export season with much uncertainty (see Eurofruit, 17 March 2020).
The sector is also affected by continued power disruptions due to the failure of the local electricity supply network, and issues related to the country’s port infrastructure.
The Citrus Growers Association (CGA), announcing its forecast for the season, said there are now a number of issues that are beyond producers’ control that could impact the season.
The CGA stressed that the coronavirus outbreak poses a new challenge for fresh produce exporters around the world. “It is encouraging to see that China’s logistics services should soon be fully operational, as freight volumes and vessel calls have rebounded rapidly over the past two weeks.”
However, the outbreak in the European Union, South Africa’s largest citrus export market, remains a concern. “This could lead to a further drop in demand and a shortage of containers when the export season starts in May. It is therefore essential that exporters confirm the availability of containers before starting to ship.”
According to some sources, demand remains good despite the virus. There are also indications that trade in China and other eastern markets may begin to recover rapidly.