The late start of the Orange River region has affected the volume of shipments until the end of week 49. The first grapes from South Africa and Namibia, mostly Early Sweet and Prime, are arriving in Europe now.
This past weekend grapes destined for the European pre-Christmas market left Cape Town harbour. There were two container ships from MSC and Safmarine, as well as a reefer vessel, the Baltic Heather.
Orange River growers could load approximately only one week’s worth of the harvest on the vessel, according to a shipping line agent, but volumes from Aussenkehr (southern Namibia) and Limpopo/Mpumalanga were more than enough.
Export statistics show that shipment levels are lower compared to last year.
Better start to pre-Christmas campaign
“Everyone loaded what they could, but there’s no oversupply,” remarks an exporter, who notes that the European retail market is looking fine, but the open market will feel the pressure. India's impact is expected by late January.
It was a better start to the pre-Christmas campaign than last year when wind was disrupting loading activities, says an exporter, although the past two weeks have seen delays caused by windy conditions exacerbated by roadworks in the harbour causing traffic congestion (a total of 127 hours of delay in November). So far this week congestion has eased.
“Grapes are extremely late coming out of the Orange River,” says a shipping agent, “but it hasn’t majorly impacted yet. As they start peaking, in about two weeks, we could see overlaps with other regions and early spikes.”
Volumes in Cape Town harbour are relatively low for the moment, according to a port official, mostly grapes and plums.