After a difficult year, there is new determination and confidence in the South African table grape sector ahead of the 2023 season.
South Africa is now less than two months away from the start of the 2022/23 table grape season and the industry has said it is ready to once again confirm its status as a preferred supplier in international markets. .
Industry organization SATI said in its first outlook for the new season that growers and stakeholders have proactively planned and assessed how to improve quality on farms and mitigate as much risk as possible during product transport.
“The focus has been on developing and improving collaborative working relationships within the industry to help overcome the challenges faced last season,” said SATI Managing Director AJ Griesel. “Significant progress has been made and South Africa is poised to confirm its status as a supplier of quality table grapes to the southern hemisphere.”
Griesel acknowledged that the 2021/22 season for South African table grapes had been one of the toughest since the post-deregulation era two decades ago.
Increases in production costs, transportation costs and logistical challenges have put significant pressure on producers.
“In preparation for the upcoming season, SATI has worked closely with industry players including Transnet, Port of Cape Town, Hortgro, Fresh Produce Exporters Forum, as well as other associations across the industry such as the CGA to develop proactive plans that mitigate against these challenges, and therefore help the industry move forward,” Griesel continued.
“By intensifying the drive to deliver excellent quality grapes, South African growers and specialist technical support teams remain committed to producing, packing and shipping top quality grapes.”
He said ongoing on-farm production improvements included post-harvest protocols and product handling, and feedback received from various industry technical forums had been positive.
Quality and crop control remain at the forefront and these initiatives have already begun, he said.
As part of monitoring and maintaining optimal temperatures in cold stores, SATI is currently developing a cold chain project to monitor temperatures from the packing station to the market in collaboration with producers and exporters.
Whenever possible, growers pack their own fruit in on-farm warehouses,” Griesel noted. “This is a significant investment of capital and resources that demonstrates the growers’ continued commitment to growing and exporting quality produce.
Regarding market access, South African exports of table grapes have increased their presence year on year over the past five seasons, he pointed out.
“SATI is committed to maintaining established industry markets while continuing its market development efforts in emerging markets.”
South Africa remained a quality southern hemisphere producer in its traditional markets, and export figures provided positive indicators of the industry’s expansion in the northern hemisphere, he said. declared.
The compound annual growth rate (CAGR) to the European Union over the past four years, exports had increased by 6 percent.
“UK exports remained stable, showing a 4% increase in CAGR over the same period,” he continued. “Exports to Canada have increased by 19% CAGR over the past four years, while exports to the United States have increased by 40% CAGR over the same period. The industry is eager to expand further into the US market.
Griesel said that compared to other producing countries in the southern hemisphere, South Africa had the advantage of being close to Europe and of free trade agreements with the European Union and the United Kingdom. United.
“Continued expansion into Southeast Asian markets remains one of SATI’s strategic objectives, and significant progress has been made in the Philippines.”
SATI’s Chinese market development campaign was successfully launched two years ago and continued last season despite Covid-19 restrictions in China.
“The industry looks forward to supplying this market with quality South African table grapes in the 2022/23 season,” he added.