Matthias Eggemann from Fresh-Connection Fruchtimport Ltd on the current grape season

"Strikes in Peru are already causing supply shortages on red seedless grapes"

The overseas grape season is getting off to a relatively laborious start this year. "The current strikes in Peru have led to supply bottlenecks, especially for red seedless grapes. Goods are very sought after and they sell for very high prices," says Matthias Eggemann, managing director of Fresh-Connection Fruchtimport Ltd.

Matthias Eggemann during his visit to South Africa

Meanwhile, the incoming ships from South Africa are being considerably delayed due to strikes in the port of Rotterdam, Eggemann states. "This means shipping will already drag on for a few days, and unloading will also take a few days. This means that when the goods will finally hit the market, the Christmas trade will already be over, more or less." In Namibia, inventory looks good, but exporters are still struggling with a lack of packaging materials. In South Africa, there has been too much rainfall in recent weeks and more rain is being forecast. Eggemann: "This has led to serious crop losses for farms in the northern region of Groblersdal."

Increase in demand follows lull in consumption
Apart from red grapes, the current supply situation for the remaining grapes from Peru and Brazil is still okay, he said. "Due to the price developments, demand was rather restrained in the past weeks, but it is now clearly increasing. I also expect a further increase in demand, leading up to Christmas. This will concern the entire variety range, whether Flame Seedless or large Crimson Seedless." 

Additional costs for production and logistics
The last remaining Italian stocks, which were just cleared last week, have also put noticeable pressure on the market, according to Eggemann. "This means we cannot yet assess the extent to which the additional production and logistics costs can be passed on when it comes to grapes from overseas. The same applies to the inflation-induced reduction in purchasing power among consumers, although I would imagine that the resulting reluctance to buy these grapes will hit the more unusual products, such as air-freighted exotics, more."

Sweeties are gaining larger market share
From a longer-term perspective, Eggemann is quite positive about the future of overseas grapes. "There are a lot of new varieties being bred and tested, whether in Latin America, South Africa or India. Some of these, such as Arra-29 or Passion Fire, as well as Arra 33 or Honey Pop, have recently been able to establish themselves, and Arra 35-36 will also be introduced to the market soon. Arra 15 or Sweeties are also gaining larger market shares, as they are particularly high-yielding and therefore especially economical. In general, the trend in global cultivation is moving towards new, currently popular grape varieties, which are being placed on the market via selected importers. In India, the market-standard Thomson Seedless is already increasingly being replaced by new varieties, such as Sweeties."

Different grape market
On the sales side, the trend for seeded grapes within German food retail is rather negative in favor of seedless fruit, Eggemann observes. "However, this only concerns grapes from overseas; Italian Italia grapes with pips, on the other hand, continue to be well received." In addition to supplying domestic food retailers, Fresh-Connection Fruchtimport is also a dedicated exporter to Scandinavia and Eastern Europe. "Each customer clientele has its specific requirements and wishes in terms of packaging type and size, and in that respect the grape market is quite differentiated."

Images: Fresh-Connection Fruchtimport GmbH 

For more information:
Matthias Eggemann
Fresh-Connection Fruchtimport GmbH
Mercatorstrasse 21
21502 Geesthacht
Tel.: +49 (0) 4152 90 68 050
Fax: +49 (0) 4152 90 68 059  

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