The state of SA’s table grape industry

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Although the South African table grape industry is over a century old, the industry remains dynamic. The efforts of intellectual property companies and breeders, as well as growers and exporters make the introduction of new and improved table grape varieties from local and international breeders possible. This keeps the industry at the forefront of technological advancement and international competitiveness.

The South African Table Grape Industry (SATI) recently published an update about the state of the South African table grape industry:

  • National inspection volumes for week 6 amounted to 5,48 million cartons (4,5kg equivalent), which is 7% lower than the same week in the previous season.
  • A total of 50,16 million cartons (4,5kg equivalent) were inspected for export up until week 6, which is 7% less than the previous season year to date.
  • A total of 37,6 million cartons (4,5kg equivalent) have been exported, which is 10% lower than the previous season to date.
  • The variance between volumes inspected and volumes exported is often due to vessels packing for one week and departing in the next. For example, containers may be packed onto a vessel in week 6 but will only be counted as export volumes once the vessel departs the port in week 7. 
  • Three regions, namely the Olifants River, Berg River and Hex River regions, are still packing. The Berg River Region is currently in its peak packing period, with 2,60 million and 2,46 million cartons (4,5kg equivalent) respectively packed in weeks 5 and 6. 
  • On a national level, peak inspection volumes are expected over the next week or two, with the Hex River Region also moving into its peak packing weeks.
  • There have been delays with some vessels in the Cape Town port over the last two weeks. Stakeholders remain in close contact with port officials to address challenges and mitigate compounding factors where possible. Performance output in the recent weeks has not been satisfactory due to vessel omissions. Thus, a concerted effort by Transnet and other stakeholders is required to manage volumes in the coming weeks. Unfavourable weather (wind) is predicted for the coming week.
  • Although most alternatives come with a significant cost implication, we urge exporters to consider these in order to alleviate additional pressure at the Cape Town Port Terminal. The use of alternative ports could be an option as well as the use of the conventional vessel (FUJI BAY), which is expected to load during weeks 9 and 10. This is not an ideal situation, but it could assist with alleviating congestion at the port.   
  • During week 6, the vessel carrying the largest volume of table grapes was the Kalahari Express, with 1,69 million cartons (4,5kg equivalent), which is due to arrive in Rotterdam on 28 February. – South African Table Grape Industry

Read more about South African grape cultivars.

Logistics update

  • Vessel delays have been experienced at the Cape Town Port over the past two weeks, mostly due to factors including weather conditions, lack of equipment and operational challenges. 
  • At times stacks have been full, which meant that reefers could not enter the port. Fresh Produce Exporters’ Forum (FPEF) and industry stakeholders are working closely with port management to deal with the matter of hogging of booking slots. 
  • Some vessel omissions have been observed over the past two weeks. 
  • Stakeholders continue to work with the port on windbound recovery.
  • Empty gate operating hours must improve and need to coincide with evacuation (occurs when night runs are not possible due to wind delays).
  • Port operations have indicated that they will urgently investigate the condition of all roads as well as the staging area. Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) engineering department has been assigned to this task.
  • A fair amount of wind is forecast for the coming week. These are predicted to be heavy, prolonged winds likely to impact port operations and an increase of vessels in anchor and possible omissions is anticipated. We are engaging with the port to understand plans for a recovery plan heading into our peak weeks. –  Antoinette van Heerden, Logistical Affairs Manager at FPEF

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