Published on December 22, 2023 in Fresh Plaza

South African grapes arrive on a positive market

ARRA Varieties was recently featured in Fresh Plaza Magazine. Click here to view the original article.

In the latest South African Table Grape Industry trade update, Category Manager Grapes at Delecta gave market insights. He stated that South African grapes are performing well and positive feedback has been received on arrival quality & market demand has been good. Favourable weather conditions experienced to date have facilitated a quality harvest. Volumes are moving well in the UK & EU, with prices displaying an upward trajectory compared to last season at the same time.

“Various macro-economic factors are contributing to a more favourable market environment, including current exchange rates, lower freight costs compared to last year, less product from other markets being shipped to the EU and an earlier end to the Northern Hemisphere market.”

Closure of the Suez Canal is expected to impact Indian volumes to the EU and the drought in California is anticipated to result in lower Peruvian volumes to the EU – both presenting opportunity for South African grapes.

“Shipping timelines have improved, with an average of 8 days loading time compared to 14 days last year. Alternative options such as using conventional vessels, and shipping out of Walvis Bay, Port Elizabeth & Durban have contributed to relieving the pressure at Cape Town Port, therefore resulting in lower average loading times.”

South African Volumes & Update
A total of 11,26 million cartons (4,5 kg equivalent) were inspected for export up until week 50, which is 16% less than the same time last year.

A total of 5,73 million cartons (4.5 kg equivalent) were exported up until week 50, which is 34% lower than the previous season to date. All five regions are now packing. The Hex River Region began packing in week 50 and the Berg River Region in week 51.

The top 3 exported varieties for week 50 were Prime, Early Sweet & Tawny Seedless.

The Port of Cape Town is now operating 5 additional RTGs, however there is little improvement in output. Productivity remains lower than required for optimal efficiency.

The port experienced challenges in the last week due to equipment breakdowns and the number of staff on site, as a result of a staff transport issue.

Regional Updates 
Grape quality in the Northern Provinces is good. The region is currently packing Tawny Seedless, Sweet Globe, Sweet Celebration, ARRA Sweeties™ and Crimson Seedless.

The Orange River Region is entering its peak packing weeks (51 to 02). White varieties currently being packed include ARRA Passion Fire™ Ivory, Timpson, ARRA Sweeties™ and Surgraone. Red varieties currently being packed include , Flame, Sweet Celebration and Ralli. Black varieties currently being packed are Midnight, Sable Seedless and ARRA Mystic Bloom™. Feedback from the market to date has been positive.

The Olifants River Region has increased packing, and is currently focussed on Early Sweet, Starlight, Flame and Tawny. The climate is mild overall, with no extreme heat and a positive long-term forecast. Westerly winds mean cool nights and mornings, which has facilitated good grape colouring. Overall good berry health, colour and size has been reported.

The Hex River Region’s harvest began 7 days later than last year, and timing is now aligned with previous averages (last season the harvest began early). The region started packing Starlight in week 50, continued into week 51 and expects to begin packing ARRA Passion Star™ in week 52. Good weather has been experienced to date, with warmer day temperatures and relatively cool nights contributing to colour and sugar development. A possibility of some rain next week exists. The region is positive and looks forward to maintaining good quality product synonymous with South Africa.

The Berg River Region began packing in week 51 and is currently on track to its estimated 19,05 million cartons, with good berry size and health reported. Sugars and colour development are going well. More areas are expected to start packing in week 52, focusing on Midnight and Sable Seedless.

Southern Hemisphere Insights
Namibia has packed 6,94 million cartons (76% of season estimate) up until week 50. The top 3 varieties packed in week 50 were ARRA Sweeties™, ARRA Passion Star™ and Timco.

Peru exported 32,5 million cartons white seedless, 17,3 million cartons red seedless & 3,5 million cartons black seedless up until week 49. Exports in the Piura region are 9% down and expected to conclude soon, while Ica’s volumes are 3 weeks earlier.

Chile exported 2,4 million cartons white seedless, 226k cartons red seedless & 82k cartons black seedless up until week 49.

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