The grape season in Portugal has come to a close. With sales ending a bit earlier than usual, it’s easy to see the season ended with strong demand throughout. Looking back at the season, Susana Ferreira, marketing director of Portuguese grape exporter Vale da Rosa, feels they managed to achieve the goals they set out for themselves this year:
“The campaign ran until the end with a high volume. We normally finish the season at the end of December. but this year we ended sales in the last week of November with seedless red and white grapes. It seems to me that the goals we set ourselves at the beginning of the season have been achieved. We were able to increase our quantity compared to previous years, as well as finding new markets. The biggest victory was that we managed to reach the Hong Kong market by plane. We also had an achievement in the Portuguese market, with the launch of a new 500g heat-sealed, zero-plastic packaging. An innovative proposal that proves our desire to always seek the best and most sustainable solutions.”
Demand has been very strong in Europe, Ferreira explains. “We were surprised by the high demand in the European market, especially at the end of the campaign when there was an increase compared to the previous years. The Autumn Crisp and Sweet Celebration varieties did especially well and received very positive feedback for their quality. Perhaps the most challenging part of the season was understanding the differences in each of these new markets and adapting to them. Finding new paths requires specialization and attention to detail.”
Looking ahead at the season next year, Vale de Rosa is investing in cold storage facilities, Ferreira states: “In 2024 we hope to strengthen the work we started this year with our partners. In terms of production, we will focus on varieties that we believe are winners and perhaps leave some others behind. Regarding investment, we are preparing new and more modern cold storage facilities and are considering modernizing our packaging lines. In addition to these points, we will continue to work on improving zero plastic packaging and hopefully take it beyond the Portuguese market.”
It's unclear if Vale de Rose will be able to increase production further, but is heavily committed on ensuring their clients with the quality they’re accustomed to, Ferreira says. “I don't yet know if the quantity produced will allow us to increase export volumes, but we will certainly be able to serve our customers better, because we already have accumulated experience and remain focused on delivering a premium quality product. We continue to replant, replacing older vines with new and more productive varieties. In any case, for now, an increase in the number of hectares is not expected, but rather an increase in volume as the most recent vineyards begin to reach cruising speed in terms of production.”
“We hope that next year will be at least as good as 2023. We are taking our first steps in the production of raisins and we also hope to find space for this new type of product outside of Portugal. Like our table grapes, our raisins also have very distinctive characteristics, high quality and a unique flavor,” Ferreira concludes.