“We’ll definitely try it, but how successful it’s going to be, I don’t know,” he said. “Growers say it’s a pretty good eating piece of fruit, but I’m not so sure it’s going to work well.”
The main problem with the South African grapefruit deal is logistics, Cowan said. Unlike clementines and navels, grapefruit grow far from the port in Capetown — about eight hours away by truck, he said.
When you tack on that transportation cost to the price of shipping fruit across the ocean, it could be hard for South Africa to compete with California grapefruit on price, Cowan said.
“Unless you can get $20-plus for them (U.S. f.o.b.), it’s going to a hard go-round,” he said.
One advantage South African fruit could have is that a lot of it is grown organically, Cowan said. That could help it attract a premium price that would mitigate some of those higher logistical costs, he said.