The people of the Union of South Africa have established on a sound and satisfactory basis the beginnings of what we hope and believe will develop in due course into a very great industry of fruit canning. The industry already meets the demands of the home market, but the people of South Africa are not great eaters of canned fruit, and about 60 per cent. of the total production is at present exported mainly to this country. The growth of the canned and bottled fruit industry has been exceedingly rapid, the output having steadily risen from about 1,500,000 lbs. in 1916–17 to over 7½ million lbs. in 1929–30. The fruit has attained a deservedly high reputation. The Fruit Export Control Acts of 1914, 1925, and 1929 are concerned in maintaining the high standard for fresh fruit, and cooperation among fruit growers themselves is a second important factor. Both of these exert an indirect but favourable influence on the fruit canning industry. It is hardly necessary to mention the physical influences which so greatly aid production of first‐class fruit. In the south‐west of the Cape Province, for example, rains are distributed. Excellent soil and bright sunlight does the rest. In spite of what has just been said, the development of the canned fruit industry has not proceeded as rapidly as might have been expected. An increase of five hundred per cent. in production in the course of fifteen years is excellent, but the value of the last figure quoted is but 156 thousand pounds sterling. It would be unfair perhaps to point out that this is but one‐tenth of the value of fresh fruit exported from the Union during the same period. Fresh fruit is the staple article of the export trade, and is likely to remain so. It is, however, but half the value of the dried fruits and two‐fifths that of the jam production of the Union. Perhaps the reasons for this relatively lower development of the canned fruit industry in South Africa at the present time is to be found in the fact that the people of South Africa are not great eaters of canned fruits, nor are they ever likely to be. In so saying, not the slightest reflection of an unfavourable kind is thrown on the canned fruit of South Africa, but the fact remains and will ever do so that so long as people are able to readily obtain an abundant supply of cheap and good fresh fruit—and the people of South Africa are in this happy position—they will turn to the orchard rather than the tin. It appears then that South Africa's market for canned fruit is the overseas market, and this as the canned fruit trade develops will claim an ever greater proportion of the canned fruit. However, the drop in prices and drop in demand in the world's markets has unfavourably affected every commodity, and canned fruit is no exception. Fruit canneries have already been established at Durban, Port Elizabeth, Cape Town—this last‐named port being the outlet for the wonderfully rich fruit grounds of the south‐west district of the Cape Province—at Paarl, Worcester, and other places. Last autumn a new cannery was established at Belleville, Cape Colony, with a present daily capacity it has been stated of 30,000 cans and a future possible output of 150,000 per day. Some five hundred fruit growers in the district are interested. It has been officially stated that over‐production and insufficient means of transport and distribution has led to great wastage of raw fruits in certain districts, so much so in fact that in many cases the fruit was not even gathered but left to rot on the ground, as transport costs were prohibitive. This is where the cannery “comes in.” Assuming an excess of the right kinds of fruit, existing markets can be supplied and new markets — for example, the Far Eastern markets—developed. The United States has at present a very considerable proportion of the world's markets. In 1931 the total imports of canned fruit into Great Britain amounted to 2,198,000 cases, and out of these the United States sent 1,888,000, Canada 25,000, Australia 109,000, and South Africa 5,000, or about quarter per cent. There seem to be no special regulations governing the trade. The Acts already referred to control the fresh fruit market. The Weights and Measures Act states that the name and address of the manufacturer and the nett weight of the contents shall be stated on the label of can or package, but the elaborated regulations of the United States and Canada have, at present at least, no counterpart in South Africa. The reason for this may be that the overseas trade in canned fruit is at present comparatively small when compared with that of certain other countries, and trade competition has not at present become particularly acute. This and the home market would seem to be controlled so far as the purity of the products is concerned by the Act, No. 13, of 1929, and the Regulations framed under sections 13, 14, 19, 33 and 44 of this Act.
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