South African growers and retailer create campaign around hail-damaged apples

Local consumers educated on value of imperfect fruit as hail becomes more common in the Western Cape

South African growers and retailer create campaign around hail-damaged apples

South African retailer Pick n Pay has started selling apples of all varieties that sustained surface damage during hail storms over the Ceres area in November and again over the Langkloof in February – apples that otherwise might have had to be discarded.

“We saw an opportunity to partner with Pick n Pay on the Hail to the Heroes campaign and get this perfectly good fruit to market while minimising the risk of job and volume losses,” says Johan du Toit, business manager for the SADC (Southern African Development Community) region at Good Hope Fruit.

With the Hail to the Heroes campaign, a challenge has been turned into an opportunity, not only to reduce food waste, protect jobs and ensure consistent supply, but also to educate consumers that an apple’s appearance – in this case, scar tissue where the superficial wounds from hail have healed – isn’t always an indication of its internal quality.

South African consumers expect the perfect fruit to which they are accustomed, which is why the bags of apples will include text that ‘hail the heroes’ – the workers on farm who tend to crops for many months. Available in store from August 2023, each sticker attached to selected bags of apples in Pick n Pay stores has a code that consumers can use to access more information.

First campaign of its kind in South Africa
With climate change expected to increase the severity and frequency of hail in the Western Cape, observes Dutoit head of technical Linde du Toit, the Hail to Heroes campaign encourages consumers to look beyond the external appearance and give these hail-damaged apples a chance.

Right: young apples at the time of last November’s hail

While unique to South Africa, remarks Karien Bassett, Dutoit’s business manager, the campaign mimics similar sentiment taking place globally.

“Without Dutoit Agri, Good Hope Fruit, and Pick n Pay, this campaign would not be possible and most of the produce would have had to be discarded,” she says. “This is an innovative partnership within the agricultural and retail sectors. We have to help each other as much as possible for the greater good of the producers, labour force and consumers.”

“The volume affected by hail was so high that there are already limited numbers of Top Red available,” remarks Rebecca Fifield, Pick n Pay food technologist. “That and Golden Delicious volumes, both big sellers for us, are tightest at the moment.”

She expects CA rooms to empty much faster than they would have in previous years.

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