2016 Crop Estimate

South Africa to significantly increase grape export volumes

The South African 2014/15 grape season experienced a steep rise in production volumes. The industry witnessed a 9.36% increase in the total hectares (ha) planted as compared to the 2013/14 season. This growth of 2728 ha. over the past three years means that production volumes will increase significantly over the next 2-5 year period. Looking at the 2014/15 season as an indicator, it is clear that the South African crop has passed the average 55 million 4.5 kg equivalent carton mark and the average will now shift to 60+ million 4.5 equivalent cartons.

Willem Bestbier, CEO of SATGI, explains that the increase in volumes for the next few years will not just be down to new planting, but also due to the fact that old varieties are being replaced by new, higher yielding ones.

"The older vineyards are being replaced with new high yielding seedless varieties as the seeded varieties are becoming less popular," states Bestbier. "The growing conditions have excellent throughout all the regions, but we did have a dry winter and some rain in the later regions would be welcome."

South Africa is still waiting for access into the Thai market, this has been a long process which was supposed to have been approved at the end of September, but as Bestbier explained there was a Government destabilisation in Thailand and the committee handling the South African access had to be reorganised, but Bestbier is still confident it should be resolved by the end of the year which would mean the later regions could export there.

The more traditional markets of Europe and the UK are looking good for the arrival of South African grapes. "The first grapes will arrive in 3-4 weeks and we understand that the late European grape season was not so good, Egypt has also had a difficult time and California and Brazil have had their challenges so the market should be relatively empty for us," explains Bestbier.

Northern Provinces
New plantings in this region, coming into full production is the main reason for growth. Packing is also expected to start one week earlier because of excellent weather conditions. Overall the volumes as indicated are expected.

Orange River
The Orange River experienced relative good conditions with excellent weather. The new varieties that were planted in this region are also coming into full production. These new varieties are having a huge impact on the production volumes. Farms with lower production in the past have merged with bigger commercial farms, and this has also lead to an increase in the production volume per farm.

Olifants River
This region has seen significant growth over the past three seasons and is expected to reach a new record harvest this season. The Olifants River region however experienced a dry season and this could have an impact later in the season. The weather condition in the region is excellent with good quality grapes expected.

Hex River Valley
The Hex River valley has replaced old Dauphine varieties with Crimson over the past five seasons. The growth in this region is due to the Crimson crop coming into full production. Overall the growing conditions in the area are excellent, with healthy vineyards boding well for a great harvest.

Berg River
This region is also expecting a good crop with an early start but rain during the winter months is a bit of a concern. However crop development has been good to date.

For more information:
Rhomona Gounden
Tel: +27 21 863 0366
Email: rhomona@satgi.co.za
Skype: rhomonagounden
Twitter: @sati_sa

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