Johannesburg - South African citrus growers are making a “momentous effort” to avoid having exports to the European Union, which accounts for a quarter of South African exports, banned after some shipments were tainted with citrus black spot disease.
“We do not believe that the EU will ban our produce,” Hannes de Waal, marketing director at the Sundays River Citrus Co. in South Africa’s Easter Cape province, said in an e-mailed response to questions.
The EU has expressed concern over the infected shipments and is likely to want to avoid the disease spreading to citrus producers in Spain, Europe’s biggest citrus exporter, De Waal said. While black spot discolors the rind of infected fruit de Waal said it cannot be spread from picked fruit.
South Africa’s citrus industry is worth 6.5 billion rand ($846 million), according to the government. South Africa is the world’s biggest exporter of whole oranges and the largest shipper of grapefruit.
There are other markets that the nation exports citrus to, like India, “but not of the size that we need to replace the EU business. We need the EU,” De Waal said. - Bloomberg News