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New EU cold treatment rules for RSA citrus could see R654m of the country’s citrus destroyed

By Annisa Essack

In June, the Standing Committee on Plant, Animal, Food, and Feed (SCOPAFF) issued new regulations that require cold treatment of oranges destined for the region to protect them from False Coddling Moths (FCMs).

South African Citrus Growers Association special envoy for EU and market access Deon Joubert has warned of the potentially devastating impact on the industry.

According to Joubert, these regulations will result in millions of cartons of the citrus currently heading to the EU being destroyed if enforced this month.

In the regulations, extensive changes have been made to the current phytosanitary requirements for citrus from South Africa.

Joubert spoke to Radio Islam International; he explained the requirements of the amended laws.

He says that citrus imports must undergo specified cold treatment procedures and pre-cooling steps for a specific period before importation or before shipment can be shipped.

He clarified that there was a significant difference between these new requirements and South Africa’s current rigorous FCM Risk Management System, which has proven highly effective in protecting European production from pests and diseases, including FCM, over the past several years.

According to Joubert, a ‘significant portion’ of South Africa’s orange production cannot survive the new cold treatment.

By the time they reach the EU after 14 July, they will be subject to the EU’s new phytosanitary requirements.

In response, authorities could potentially destroy 3.2 m cartons of citrus valued at R605m (€38.4m) currently on their way to the region.

The South African government is engaging its EU counterparts to push them to reconsider these regulations, as they appear to be nothing more than a politically motivated move by Spanish manufacturers to exclude Southern African citrus from the European market.

According to Joubert, this would severely threaten the sustainability and profitability of the South African citrus industry and lead to significant supply chain gaps and higher prices for European consumers.

A massive amount of fruit is at risk of destruction, a situation that comes at a time when the EU is focusing on minimizing food waste in its supply chains. It will also put 140,000 jobs the local industry sustains, mostly in rural areas, at risk.

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