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Robert van Melle, Origin Fruit Direct:

“South African grape season not as terrible as expected”

Although the drought has had a considerable impact on the South African grape season, the expected shortages failed to occur this year. “We might have received fewer grapes, but the shortages weren’t all that bad,” says Robert van Melle, who is responsible for grape sales for Origin Fruit Direct.

He realises this isn’t the case for all products. “In December I visited South Africa, and I’ve also seen complete plantations dried out. Normally, South Africa continues until mid to late April, but we’ll now have to wait and see if they’ll make it. The tail end of the season usually doesn’t result in the largest volumes, and an early end is now also expected.”

Robert took this photograph in Elephant River in South Africa on 15 December. Due to the water shortage, blocks of grape plantations are left completely dry to use the remaining irrigation water for other blocks.

Besides, the start of the South African season wasn’t very early either. “Brazil profited by filling the gap left by the north of Peru during the first part of the overseas season. People continued shipping to Europe up to four weeks longer than in previous years, even though there were relatively many quality problems. Because of this, people were eagerly awaiting the South African grapes,” Robert says. “Prices have therefore been relatively high, and they were higher for good-quality grapes in particular in the past year.”

“India seized its chance on the European market, and shipped many more grapes in the first weeks compared to last year. Volumes have now been scaled back, and levels are comparable to last year again, the only difference being that we’ll probably not collide with the Chilean season. Chile might be on the market now, but they mostly ship to the US, and for now, they’re not seen on the European market in large numbers yet,” Robert says.

Prices for Indian grapes are currently at a level between 11 and 12 euro. “In coming weeks, prices will probably drop a bit, but in the end, we’re hoping for a good Indian season,” the importer says. According to him, the consequences of the cold were limited for the grape sales last week. “A decline in the sale of loose grapes, that mostly go to wholesalers, can be seen, but the sales of punnets remained quite stable.”
For more information:
Robert van Melle
Origin Fruit Direct
Tel: +31(0)88 244 93 57

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