The Chilean grape season literally ended up in the water. "For the growers, it's tragic. They had a perfect growing season. Everything was going their way until the last weekend in January. Then heavy rainfall destroyed everything," Jan Marc Schulz of SFI Rotterdam says. "Thompson grape supplies are down 70% and Flame, almost 100%. The Chileans expect to export a total of 20 million fewer boxes of grapes."
"The grapes still arriving from Chile are from before the rains. The last of these will get here next week. Exporters are very reluctant to send grapes from after the rain to Europe. They're en route for a long time. So, then, logically, they prefer to send them to the United States." However, there's no danger of enormous shortages in the European market. "The market looks good. South African and India picked up the slack quickly. There was only a small gap in the white grape supply. That was in the second half of February."
"White grape prices peaked in the second half of February. But they're stable again. A 500g tray now sells for between €1.20 and €1.30. The true Chilean Thompsons even go for a little more. Red grapes prices are edging up towards the € 1.10 mark," says Jan Marc. "India spied an opportunity with white grapes. Unfortunately, we got early grapes with insufficient Brix levels. I don't think that was necessary. Because of this, shoppers might reject Indian grapes. That, while the market dearly needs those grapes now."
SFI Rotterdam relocated last week. It's only the third time in the company's 44-year existence. "My father started in Marconi Street [in Rotterdam] in 1977. The business stayed there for 24 years. In 2002, we moved to number 31, remaining there for 18 years. Unfortunately, the port authority canceled the building's lease. They want to widen the road. But we're delighted with our new location overlooking the Maas river," concludes Jan Marc.