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Georgios Bitsakos, Grapa Varieties:

“It’s an early and sweet start to the Mediterranean table grape season”

This year, the Mediterranean table grape season shows earlier indications, as the area is experiencing higher temperatures, more frequent heatwaves, and changing rainfall patterns, affecting the grape harvest timing and quality. The unpredictability of long-term climate forecasts adds another layer of complexity. "For example, seasonal forecasts may indicate a high probability of a particularly warm summer in 2024, but if these predictions are not accurate, growers who have adjusted their practices based on these forecasts could face significant financial losses. Some adapt by shifting to grape varieties that are more resilient to extreme weather changes or with short growing cycles like the ARRA varieties, or by altering their farm management practices to cope with the new climate realities​," states Georgios Bitsakos, Head of Brand Marketing at Grapa Varieties.

ARRA Honey Pop being harvested at Technogreen in Egypt.

The Egyptian table grape season had an early start, about 10 days earlier than last year. Bitsakos, who has just returned from Egypt, elaborates: "This early onset has led to a simultaneous early harvest of several varieties, generating a shorter harvest capacity, potentially creating a gap in supply during the mid to late season. However, the quality of Egyptian grapes will guarantee them a good place in the markets", affirms Bitsakos.

He says very early varieties are not only beneficial for the grower, because of their early arrival in the markets, but also for being sustainable due to their short growing cycle. Short cycles are translated to economic efficiency, consuming less water, pesticides, fertilizers, and labor. Shorter growing cycles are helping to secure the crop, as it minimizes the risk of exposure to unexpected heat waves or unexpected rain.

The first shipment of Grapa's well-established Early Sweet™, left Egypt for Europe on May 6th. While Early Sweet continues to be very popular in early-growing countries such as Morocco, Egypt, Mexico, and Namibia as well as the northern region in South Africa, the new generation ARRA Honey Pop™ is starting to pop up. Bitsakos mentions, "This variety's unique combination of quality and economic efficiency makes it stand out in the early grape market. Along with the red ARRA Fire Kiss™, and the black ARRA Mystic Charm™, these make the grape world's earliest trio, showing great promise."

Egypt ARRA Honey Pop
ARRA Honey Pop is already entering its second year of commercial production in Egypt, USA, South Africa, Australia and Mexico. "The splendid results speak for themselves as there is a very high demand for plantations amongst both new and current ARRA growers with positive feedback from marketplaces. Next year we will be able to see more Egyptian ARRA Fire Kiss. The variety offers a crispier texture, without the challenges often associated with Flame. This improvement makes a bright prospect for the future, promising a higher quality product for consumers", says Bitsakos.

ARRA Sugar drop harvested in Sicily.

Despite being an early region already successfully producing ARRA Passion Fire™ and ARRA Sugar Drop™, Egyptian growers have wisely decided to extend their market offerings by also planting mid and late-season varieties. This creates great potential for the later new ARRA red varieties, such as ARRA Fire Crunch™ and ARRA Cherry Crush™. "The varieties show excellent performance and will offer many advantages to the growers that will grow them. This chosen path proves the resilience and adaptability of Egyptian growers, paving the way for a fruitful and diverse grape market. Despite dealing with inflation and other global challenges, the innovative spirit of the Egyptian grape industry remains evident, setting the stage for a promising future", states Georgios.

He says the Moroccan harvest of Early Sweet and ARRA Passion Fire™ is also ongoing, ensuring continuous market supply. Another Mediterranean country experiencing an early start is Italy, harvesting greenhouse-grown Sicilian ARRA Sugar Drop™ in mid-May, shifting the Italian supply window earlier. Bitsakos estimates that this early Sicilian season will see strong market demand. ​"There is still time until the Greek ARRA season starts, but it's also showing indications of earliness. The different growing regions in the Mediterranean are strategically positioned to optimize their supply windows, offering retailers a consistent and wide-ranging selection of ARRA varieties", he concludes.

For more information:
Grapa Varieties
Email: [email protected]