The South African Table Grape Industry (SATI), in their latest season update, stated that export volumes are -8% lower than this time last year, with a total of 29.9 million 4.5 kg equivalent cartons that have been exported.
Peak volumes are expected over the next few weeks as various cultivars ripen and close cooperation with Cape Town port will remain a priority.
Week 4 national inspection volumes are 10% lower than the previous season year to date. A total of 38.8 million 4.5 kg equivalent cartons have been inspected for export. The variance between volumes inspected and volumes exported is often due to ships packing during one week and departing in the next.
Load shedding, implemented by South Africa's national energy supplier Eskom, remains a challenge for the industry and country. The following actions are underway: A ministerial task team has been appointed to investigate potential solutions. To better understand the industry’s situation, two surveys have been circulated during the last week – an Agbiz & a Fruit SA survey.
Liaison with Eskom to explore load curtailment efforts are ongoing. Progress has been made in two table grape growing regions, with Hexkoel in the Hex River Valley granted the opportunity to introduce load curtailment during certain time frames and a 1-month curtailment pilot project approved in the Berg River Region.
Production region updates
The Northern Regions have completed packing. The last cultivars packed included Crimson Seedless, Scarlotta Seedless and Autumn Crisp. Good weather was experienced during weeks 3 & 4. Figures indicate that the region exceeded the latest crop estimate by 9%, with a total of 5.5 million 4.5 kg equivalent cartons inspected for export (5.1 million anticipated).
Packing has been completed in the Orange River Region. The last cultivars packed included Scarlotta Seedless, Autumn Crisp and Sugar Crisp. Figures indicate that the region recorded 16.3 million 4.5 kg equivalent cartons inspected for export, exceeding its crop estimate by 2%. This represents a 27% decrease compared to total volumes packed in the region last season.
Up to week 4, the Olifants River Region recorded 1.7 million 4.5 kg equivalent cartons inspected for export. Some late season cultivars are currently being packed. Packing is expected to conclude in the next 3 to 4 weeks. Good weather was experienced during weeks 3 and 4. Current figures indicate that the region’s crop is likely to be significantly lighter than last year’s crop, due to weather conditions and weaning. To date market prices received for early-season cultivars are at acceptable levels in comparison to last season, however, this does not compensate for the sharp decrease in volumes.
Packing continues in the Berg River Region, with various cultivars currently underway. Berry quality and health are good. Fair weather with no rain is forecast for the foreseeable future during the harvest. Figures indicate that the region remains on track to achieve its latest crop estimate of 19.9 million 4.5 kg equivalent cartons.
Packing continues in the Hex River Region, with volumes expected to peak during weeks 6 to 9. Crimson volumes, being the largest cultivar in the region, are expected to remain on par with estimates. White seedless volumes are expected to be consumed by the market fast, and the region is of the view there may be an opportunity to extend the season in future. Overall, the Hex River Region has reported a very good, healthy season. The Peruvian crisis has led to increased interest from non-traditional markets, which presents potential growth opportunities. Figures indicate that the region remains on track to achieve its latest crop estimate of 24 million 4.5 kg equivalent cartons.
Market Trends & Logistics
Canada & USA Insights - Presented by Riaan Swart, Director Deciduous at Dole South Africa. "The Canadian market remains stable, and indications are that demand for South African table grapes is good. Shipping volumes remain similar to last season, which is a positive indication."
The USA market is currently particularly good for South Africa due to the challenges being experienced in Peru.
UK Insights - Presented by Damian Layton, Technical Manager Produce at Morrisons UK. "The UK market is very disrupted at the moment, with many sectors striking and the cost of living increasing. Downward sales trends on several commodities, including grapes, have been observed. Customers are cash strapped and retailers have switched from packing fruit in 500g to 400g packaging. Morrisons has reduced imports from Peru this season."
Logistics Update - Presented by Antoinette van Heerden, Logistical Affairs Manager at the Fresh Produce Exporters Forum. "The Cape Town Port is currently operating three berths. Vessels are working dual cycles, which means stacks are loaded and reefers are discharged simultaneously, to optimise operations. The port is currently seeing lower levels of occupancy, and teams are working on increasing this in anticipation of more volumes arriving in the coming weeks."
For more information:
South African Table Grape Industry
Tel: +27 21 863 0366