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Namibian grapes, delayed by 5 to 7 days, reportedly have improved quality & size compared to last year

UK & EU markets very keen for first South African grapes

Grape packing for the new season commenced three weeks ago with seedless white varieties from the Limpopo production area. The first volumes which have left South African shores for “very keen” markets in the UK and the EU, are expected to arrive by week 48.

The grape season in Namibia is about five to seven days (some even reckon ten days) late this year; Namibia normally follows Limpopo by about five days. Packing in Namibia was a bit slow out of the starting blocks due to a few weeks of unseasonable cool weather which, while good for colouring, have delayed the season but it’s picking up steam this week. 

Unlike the Western Cape, there is sufficient water in the Namibian production areas. Traders are enthusiastic about the quality – some calling it an improvement on last year - with larger berries. Furthermore, strong volumes are expected, continuing this young grape-growing region’s steady upward march. Volumes from Limpopo are looking slightly up this year too.

There is an expectation of fewer grapes on the world market, with an early end to the Spanish, Greek and Italian seasons and sizeable decreases from Peru and Brazil on the cards.

“We expect a very favourable trading environment from weeks 48 to 50. The pull action looks good at the moment but it all depends on whether demand keeps up with supply and how quickly the grapes are shifted. Traditionally, the season opens with very high prices but it could reach tipping point if consumption doesn’t keep track. This year’s opening prices are very good but generally in keeping with low volumes and with prices historically this time of the year,” explains Jean Smith, head of Corefruit’s grape unit. 

In Namibia the opening varieties of Flame and Early Sweet will be harvested for another week or so; packing of Namibian grapes has just started. Capespan’s executive head of table grapes, Charl du Bois, says that the company hasn’t started actual shipping yet.

Not all of the first volumes are destined for the UK and the EU. Some exporters are sending their first grapes to the Middle East. Globally, there is less product in circulation. Within the next three weeks or so, exports will start to widen to South East Asia.

Many Limpopo grape growers will be finishing the Early Sweet harvest by now to start focusing on the Prime season, a quick week-long window before the advent of the white varieties for which Namibia and the Orange River are famous. Limpopo is better known for its red and black varieties which colour nicely in the cooler nights experienced in the interior of South Africa. Their early red varieties are Flame and Starlight.

At one of the large cold storage facilities for table grapes in Cape Town, 800 pallets of table grapes had gone out last week; it’s expected to reach 2,000 by the end of this week. 

“We’re in a more favourable position than we were last year this time,” says Jean Smith of Corefruit.

For more information:
Jean Smith
Tel: +27 21 863 6300

Charl du Bois
Tel: +27 21 917 2600

Ryno Palm
FVC International
Tel: +27 21 505 5961

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