Brazil to cut grape exports this season, claims Grupo JD

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Brazil to cut grape exports this season, claims Grupo JD

Table grape harvesting will start in Brazil's São Francisco Valley this week with significant volumes to start in mid-September, according to the country's leading producer Grupo JD.

The company's commercial manager Daniel Watanabe tells Brazil had a dry first semester and conditions have been good to date.

"As a result our exports are expected to be of high quality but in terms of volumes we should see a decrease from last year," he says.

He highlights the change can largely be attributed to a very different local market this year.

"July and August are always bad months for fruit sales in Brazil, especially in the southern areas, because the cold weather means people aren’t eating as much fruit - this year however we had a warmer winter and fruit sales have been good, and Brazilian growers are getting good prices locally.

"Most of the Brazilian growers also have the problem - and it's not a new problem - of cash flow and the high interest rate, and that’s one of the reasons they sell in the local market because they can get their money back faster, whereas export always carries a higher risk because you never know what might happen."

Watanabe is not able to reveal by how much grape exports would fall, saying it would be a "slight fall".

"We will start exporting at the end of October and in November. It seems the local supply should be out of Europe sooner which would be good for Brazilian grapes because we could get a bigger and earlier window, if in fact it really happens.

"And I don’t know about the crisis in Europe and how that will affect the product, especially with a high end product like ours; we have to pay import taxes so for the retailer there is a high cost.

"North America is still going to be a question mark for us because California is going to have a very good crop that’s probably going to stay in the market."

Despite the challenges, Watanabe says Brazil's grape industry has a long term view on export opportunities, will keep its commitments with clients and maintain the rough export market share of 75% to Europe and 25% to North America.

The first large volumes of white seedless will start in week 38 and go through to the second week of October, while red grapes will be harvested from the end of September to late October.

"This will also be our first year with a bigger crop of the new varieties like the seedless Sweet Celebration, seedless Sweet sunshine, the seeded Jubilee and Timco red seedless."

Grupo JD owns subsidiary Fazendas Labrunier, which accounts for 12% of the country’s grape production with five farms in the states of Bahia and Pernambuco, selling fruit directly to some of the world’s biggest supermarket chains like Wal-Mart, Carrefour, Loblaws, Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Albert Heijn and Coop Norden.

The company also has an important partnership in North America with the Oppenheimer Group to supply other top North American retailers.

Photo: Fazendas Labrunier

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