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Italy: Planning necessary in an ever more complicated grape market

"Climate conditions were favourable enough for table grape production this year. The Victoria variety - an early white variety with seeds - was successful thanks to good yields per hectare and excellent prices for producers," says Gino Peviani (in the photo), a leading Italian operator, on the 2013 table grape campaign.

"Even more satisfactory results were obtained by crops under films, rather than under nets, as the latter did not start well and therefore were not taken into consideration. As regards the main domestic variety, Italia grapes, quantities are good but the quality is such that only a small part of the produce was excellent."

"As regards seedless varieties, the fact that Spain arrived on the market late because of a great amount of North African stocks in Europe and of delays in ripening meant that there was little room for the Italian produce, which overlapped with the Spanish and the early Greek one." 

"This in turn led to a drop in demand, which created a lot of difficulties. We managed to overcome the problems thanks to the wonderful weather, which lasted from mid-July to mid-September."

According to the exporter, "some of the destinations for Italian seedless grapes were downsized, especially Great Britain, although we have found alternative outlets and we try to manage quantities that reflect our sale potential."

Greece, Spain and the British market
Greece is a protagonist from mid-August to mid-October with Thompson grapes, which Greeks have been cultivating very well for decades. "Greeks know how to sell their top quality, but they also know how to sell off the mediocre ones. We can do the same."

"Thompson grapes has always been a favourite in Great Britain, despite the fact that Sugraone from Italy is more common and arrives almost a month earlier, so it is usually almost finished by the time Greece arrives on the market."

According to Peviani, the British market has become quite difficult to manage: "Not reaching all quality standards, even if only by a small margin, means that all plans are dropped. In addition, prices do not pay off the effort to reach such high standards. In fact, we had downsized their requests already in the pre-campaign negotiations. It must also be said though, that the English pay the highest prices when the produce lacks, but that's not our philosophy - we are interested in a partnership." 

"I would say that Spain particularly influenced the season, because Spaniards made up for the lack of sugar content in their products with low prices, which were therefore really appealing."

A possible strategy for Italian table grapes
"It is clear now, how Italy must focus on the period that goes from September to November, leaving August out because there are too much competitors with lower prices and earlier products," says Peviani.

According to the manager, the performance of black and red grapes is interesting and, if planned in the right quantities, they can complete the range and become appealing for both domestic and foreign clients.

"It is important to find alternative varieties, but there are no certainties up until now, therefore we must go on with research and development. We are very much active on this front, because we feel that the sector is strategic. Of course we must be careful and responsible. Before convincing producers to plant a certain variety, we must be sure and do things carefully."

"As regards grapes with seeds, it is essential that Italian producers work better and get back the original characteristics of the variety. There are companies that do things well, but much of the produce is badly managed and badly selected, and there's the serious risk of destroying an asset that has supported the economy of the producer regions. Italy must cultivate quality and taste. Italia, Victoria, Red Globe, Pizzutella and other specialities can still be successful, generate income for producers and play a strategic part in our exports."

A positive analysis
"Despite the difficulties, we are satisfied with how we have reacted so far. There's no stress, our timing is perfect and we will reach the end of October with white and coloured seedless grapes."

"The truly positive note is represented by the domestic market, where seedless grapes are now successful, especially in the North where demand is increasing and volumes are good."

"As regards grapes with seeds, our company is still selling it in Switzerland and Europe and also overseas. We do not take into consideration markets that want cheap mediocre products because we would not be able to cover the costs," concludes Gino Peviani.


Via Lombardia, 7/9
27010 Siziano (PV) - Italy
Tel.: +39 (0)382 6785259
Fax: +39 (0)2 57760379

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