There is a growing demand for grapes in Asia, the Middle East and Russia. As a result, volumes on the European market are limited this year. This is even causing some shortages on the market. The Indian grape season is over and the Egyptian season is also coming to an end, while the campaign is starting in Murcia, Spain and Italy. In California, the season is also expected to start in the coming days. Mexico has not managed to provide a staggered supply. All grapes are currently coming onto the market at the same time and are filling the shelves in the United States. In any case, this hasn't caused any major problems thanks to the demand. In East Asia, it is mainly Australia that supplies the Chinese market with grapes.
The Netherlands: Good start for Egyptian and Italian grapes after difficult overseas season
The Dutch table grape market has returned to more favorable waters after a difficult period. Importers say that the Indian season has been very difficult. Many small growers, who were mainly devoted to supplying the local market in other years, decided to export motivated by last year's good market conditions. As a result, no less than 35% more volume than initially expected was shipped to Europe. This has logically led to challenges in terms of sales. The Indian season has now ended and the Egyptian and Italian campaigns have just begun. The prices for Egyptian grapes are quite high. There is a good demand from the Middle East, Asia and Russia, and therefore, the volume for the European market is limited. Everything reaching the market is immediately gone. There is a particularly severe shortage of red, seedless grapes. The supply of white seedless grapes is a little greater, but still a little scarce. The supply is expected to increase somewhat in the coming weeks. Sales of Italian grapes also started at a high level two weeks ago. Traditionally, the first grapes are sold for expensive prices because there are no grapes with seeds available on the market. If the supply increases, the price will also fall somewhat to an acceptable level.
Belgium: Too early for grapes
It is a week or two too early for the sale of grapes. The grapes that are currently on the market come from Sicily. They look good, but the taste is currently still a bit disappointing. The taste of the grapes is expected to become much better in about two weeks.
Germany: More paperwork due to different varieties
Grapes are now available all year round in the German market and there are no longer any clear seasonal periods. Overseas grapes from countries like India, South Africa, Australia and Argentina are available with good quality 12 months a year. "We are currently also starting with Italian and Spanish grapes," said a wholesaler from Frankfurt. “This year, we are having a good campaign. The prices for the first batches are relatively stable and amount to around 3 and 4 Euro / kg. There are, of course, price differences between the various varieties, but in general, the price levels are relatively high. Of course, we do not yet have enough volume to fully meet the market demand."
With regard to the varieties, current market trends show a preference for seedless grapes: “The consumer prefers seedless grapes, even though grapes with seeds are often healthier. In any case, if we offer a very good Italian grape with seeds, it is generally accepted by the buyer.”
The color of the grape varieties is also a major factor. “In Germany, white grapes are very popular and their sales continue to grow. The ideal table grape is golden yellow, seedless and sweet in taste. "These quality requirements seem more important with grapes than with other products."
Nevertheless, Germans believe that the amount of varieties could eventually become a problem for Western European traders. “Given the overseas import of grapes, new varieties appear every week, and in Germany, that needs to be notified. This is time-consuming for us traders and, moreover, something that is challenging for us to adjust to. Also, this wide range of varieties isn't an incentive to traders or consumers." The Federal Department for Agriculture and the Food Industry are now working to find a solution that can be beneficial for both legislators and consumers.
France: Prices rise due to growing demand and smaller supply
Compared with previous years, the price of grapes has been under great pressure. There has been a lot more production from the Southern Hemisphere on the market. This year, there is an abundance of grapes of all different varieties. A few years ago, the market was under pressure due to an oversupply of white grapes or red grapes. This year, there has been a large volume of white grapes (Thompson variety) from India, putting prices on the French market under pressure.
The demand for white grapes is currently higher than in previous weeks and Egyptian white grapes are benefiting from this. The higher price is also due to the smaller volume coming from this country.
Spain: First shipment of grapes to China and Vietnam
The grape season has already started in Murcia (the most important producing region in Spain) with the harvest of the early varieties in Mazarron and Aguilas. These will be followed by ones from the Guadalentín Valley, Cieza and finally Yecla and Puerto Lumbreras. The market conditions are currently good thanks to a delay in the shipment of Egyptian grapes, Egypt will compete with Spain for a while, and then Italian grapes will also arrive on the market. Last year there was a difficult season, especially at the end, when there was more rainfall than expected and the fruit was damaged, the quality decreased and the volumes declined. The Spanish season lasts until December. Traders then switch to the fruit from Peru, Chile, South Africa or Brazil. In the past year, the Spanish grape sector has been investing in new seedless varieties. These varieties are creating new opportunities and helping considerably boost the consumption of table grapes.
This season, Spain is sending its first shipment of grapes to two new destinations: China and Vietnam. The protocols making this possible have been recently approved. The conditions set in these protocols are strict, and the long distance between Spain and South East Asia will entail logistical challenges for the sector.
Italy: The season has kicked off
The harvest of the Victoria and Black Magic grapes in Sicily started around May 23. The Red Globe and Palieri grapes are expected at the end of June. As long as the weather conditions remain favorable, the outlook for the season is good. The availability of grapes is currently limited, but the demand is at a similar level. Due to this balance between supply and demand, prices are stable.
The situation is also looking good in the vineyards of Apulia. The season will start within a month. When it comes to the Apulian grapes for consumption, there had been a delay in the fruit's flowering, but this has now been largely recovered, mainly due to the heat wave of the last few weeks in Italy. For the earlier varieties, it is reported that the fruit is currently increasing in size. The sale of the Victoria from Apulia should start at the end of July. No diseases or infections have been detected in the Italian region.
Egypt: Expansion of exports
After a delay at the start, the Egyptian grape season is now coming to an end. Looking back at the campaign, an exporter says that it has been a good season, despite the sometimes challenging weather conditions. "Due to the winter temperatures, we had a delay at the start of the season," says the exporter, who shipped 95% of his grapes abroad. Egypt is expanding its potential market in Europe (Germany, the UK, the Netherlands and Poland), Malaysia, Hong Kong, China, Kenya and Sudan. The prices for Egyptian grapes were high in Europe.
China: More Chinese grapes on the domestic market
Grape marketing is currently in full swing in China. A lot of Australian grapes were imported and sold at a good price at the start of the year. At the moment, there is a large supply of local production on the market and prices vary a lot. New grape varieties are doing very well and are being sold for high prices, but already known varieties are marketed for a lower price. The taste of grapes is important. It has to be sweet and the grape must be seedless. Companies are working hard to find new grape varieties.
The marketing of grapes is also becoming increasingly important in China. Yunnan is an important growing area in China and not many growers are familiar with the marketing. That is why the Chinese government has launched more initiatives this year to set up a brand for them, and other trading companies are also taking the initiative to help these growers.
United States: High demand expected for Californian grapes
The season in California has started later this year, "about 5 to 7 days compared to 2018 and about 7 to 10 days later than normal," says a trader. “We had a wet winter and spring, with few warm days in the spring, so we were delayed. With a large production, the delay is also greater. The fruit's quality is good. ”The season will start with the red seedless Flame and white seedless Sugraone, followed by the red seedless Crimson and the white seedless Ivory. Growers continue to assess the potential of introducing new varieties and this could entail challenges with regard to cultivation techniques.
California-based growers expect a high demand for grapes as soon as the harvest starts. The demand for grapes is also expected to grow in July, as the fruit will be marketed fresh. This is partly due to the disappointing production of cherries, blueberries and strawberries in California this year. Grape prices are currently not that high, as the supply is also high due to the supply coming from Mexico. "The consumer will pay a similar price for better quality," says the trader.
Mexico: All regions producing at the same time
Since the beginning of June, Mexico has been exporting 5 million boxes of grapes to the United States every week. This is unusual. Early production regions in Mexico were delayed, while late production regions started the season earlier. For the coming days, 20 million boxes are expected to be shipped to the United States. "The volume is about the same as two years ago, but it has all arrived at the same time," says a trader. So far, the demand for grapes has been good, but the question is how long that will last.
The quality of the Mexican grapes is good; the controls carried out by inspectors confirm this. "99% of the grapes go through these inspections," said a trader. Newer varieties also do well on the market with higher prices than the ones paid for traditional varieties. Due to the current volume of grapes, there will be no market gap between the campaigns in Mexico and California. Also, Mexican growers are growing new varieties, such as the Ivory, Sweet Celebration and Arra 29.
Australia: Growing exports to Vietnam
The grape season in Australia traditionally lasts from November to May. Before the end of the year 2018, Hort Innovation Statistics show that 177,416 tons of grapes worth $ 543 million have been grown. This is slightly more than in the previous year. The most important varieties are the Menindee and Thompson white grapes, with a share of 38%, and red grapes such as the Crimson, Flame and Globe, with a share of 31%. Australia exports 110,280 tons, with China as the most important destination, accounting for 38% of the total. Australia itself imported 15,265 tons of grapes in 2018.
Australian growers traveled to Vietnam in February 2019 to try improving their trade relations. Vietnam is the 7th largest importer of Australian grapes and exports have increased by 73% in the last four years. According to the sector, this increase proves the quality of Australian grapes. New varieties are also currently being planted, but it takes time before these become productive. Traditional varieties therefore remain the most important.