The situation on the grape market is unusual, to say the least. "There are significantly lower volumes than last year. Prices are at an excellent level, too," says Eddy Kreukniet of Exsa Europe.
"Added to this, the entire fruit range is fairly limited and expensive throughout this trade sector. There is also not too much supply in other product groups. These include citrus, avocados, and pineapples."
The last of the Namibian grapes are currently being sold in Europe. The focus will, then, shift, primarily to South Africa. "And that supply is considerably lower. Until last week, 24% fewer grapes were sent from South Africa to Europe," says Eddy.
"The harvest forecasts have already been adjusted downward. That is due to less than optimal settings. These were done after an inconsistent spring. A heatwave then hit the Orange River region. There was also rain in the cultivation areas located on the opposite side of the country. These events both caused extensive damage."
"Prices are then also 20 to 30% higher than last year. Then, prices were at a really low level," adds Kreukniet. "There are far fewer grapes on the market across the board too. That is because both Peru and Brazil sent significantly fewer grapes. The Indian harvest is delayed too, due to the heavy rainfall there."
"Several growers have also decided to sell their fruit locally. This is as a result of the high disease pressure. There is, therefore, no anxiety about the expected supply either. We are expecting slightly more grapes in the coming weeks than we got in recent weeks. The supply will, however, still be ten percent lower than last year."
Eddy mentioned the reduction of plastic packaging as a trend in the grape landscape. "Good initiatives must be developed here. These should not only be for punnets."
"It should include other forms of packaging, like paper bags. Furthermore, we see the 'rat race' - a series of endless or useless actions offering no prospect of results - for new varieties is in full swing."
"More varieties are being added than removed. I can imagine all this supply can seem confusing to buyers. On the other hand, however, it does result in several fantastic new varieties. These are truly an improvement on the existing supply. In the few years to come will show how things go in the variety rat race," Eddy concludes.