To market, to market: The Joburg Fresh Produce Market

If you get up early enough, you’ll be able to experience the hustle and bustle of the Joburg Fresh Produce Market, where many of Gauteng’s retailers and distributors purchase their fruit and vegetables. We were taken on a tour of this dynamic space by the largest market agent in South Africa, the RSA Group, to find out a bit more about this incredible market.

The sprawling market in City Deep starts getting busy from 6 in the morning, and is open from 05h00 until 11h00. Though anyone can purchase fruits and vegetables from the market, it’s mostly retailers and distributors that come and hand-pick the produce that they want to sell to their clients. The market is the biggest in the Southern Hemisphere, with four huge halls dedicated to a specific type of produce. There are fourteen market agents that sell produce on behalf of farmers – although the agents don’t own the produce, they ensure its correct storage once it’s at the market, keeping an eye on its ripeness. There is no set price for the fruits and vegetables, rather the price is decided on the morning according to availability, quality and general market trends. There’s an agreement between the farmer and the agent that the produce will be sold for the best price possible, but it’s usually sure to be cheaper than at a retailer. The farmer is paid once the produce is sold.

The market’s floor is insanely busy – agents, buyers and staff are constantly in motion across the hall floors, and the halls themselves are stuffed to the gunnels with the freshest of produce, from an astounding amount of different farms. If you want to know what’s in season, this is where to go. The agents are incredibly knowledgeable about the produce on offer – true experts in their field, they’ll be able to tell you when a produce will reach its optimum ripeness, as well as when to expect certain fruits and vegetables to come into season.

The Joburg Fresh Produce Market is a real experience, and one that any chef can take part in – all you need to get started is a buyer’s card!

How to buy

  • Visit a customer service kiosk in one of the market halls and complete a registration form (don’t forget to bring your ID).
  • You’ll then be issued with a buyer’s card, which you’ll have to deposit money onto – there’s no minimum deposit, but you’ll only be able to start purchasing with funds available on the card. Funds can be transferred onto the card at either the customer service kiosk or via eft payments.
  • Once you have a buyer’s card with money deposited on it, proceed to the section you want to go to, where you’ll find various market agents selling the same fruits and vegetables, just from different farmers.
  • Select the produce you want to buy and ask for a price.
  • When you are happy with the price, tell the salesman the quantity you require.
  • Proceed to the booking clerk in that section (he or she will be sitting at a desk with a computer).
  • Hand him/her your buyer’s card and the booking clerk will complete the transaction.
  • The cost of the produce will be taken off your buyer’s card.
  • You will then be given three receipts – your receipt, a courier copy and a removal note.
  • When you exit the section, you will need to take your produce and hand in your removal note.

Top tips

  • Walk around and have a good look before you buy.
  • You will have to buy a unit of produce, such as a pocket or a box – the unit differs per section.
  • Ask lots of questions about the product and price/packaging – there may be stock in a fridge or packed where you can’t see it.
  • Sometimes individual prices are given – ensure that you know if the price is for the whole unit or the individual items in the unit.
  • Always be aware of forklifts in front of you and behind you.

Market slang

  • Each section will have a language of its own, depending on the produce sold – the avocado section speaks of hass, ryan, fuerte, and maluma, while the apple section talks about fuji, golden delicious, granny smith and top red. The price can be affected by different varieties.
  • Market agents speak of sizes by the number of items which fit into a box – for example, a count 13 may cost more/less than a count 18. The higher the number, the smaller the produce.

Where to go

Hall 9 & 10: Exporters & Wholesalers
Hall 7 & 8: Potatoes and Onions
Hall 5 & 6: Fruit
Hall 1 & 2: Vegetables

Joburg Fresh Produce Market
Heidelberg Road
City Deep
Johannesburg

GPS Coordinates:
S26° 13′ 678″
E28° 04′ 866″

(011) 992 8009
info@joburgmarket.co.za

Trading Hours:
Monday: 05h00 – 10h00
Tuesday – Friday: 05h00 – 11h00
Saturday: 05h00 – 10h00

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