South African table grape exports set to surpass last season's

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South African table grape exports set to surpass last season's

South Africa looks set to bust last season’s bumper crop of 54.657 million 4.5 kilogram cartons with major growers predicting an increase of up to 10% on the previous year’s volumes.

Growers said fruit quality was looking good and they were upbeat about prospects in Europe despite the season starting a week later.

Grape Alliance marketing director Leon de Kock, described the situation as good for shifting larger volumes early in the season.

"Brazil came into the market earlier and Brazilian supply is going very quickly.

"We expect the market to end two weeks earlier than normal stopping at around week 48. We normally arrive with good volumes around weeks 49-50."

Afrifresh Group marketing manager Charl du Bois, said despite the economic problems of the U.K. and Europe the market needed South African supply.

"At the moment the Californians have lower volumes than normal and the market will be a bit emptier than normal.

"We are expecting a farily decent year seeing as the market is not over supplied. We are quite bullish about prices."

But Core Fruit technical manager for grapes Dewet du Toit, said his company would take care with Europe.

"We are trying not to oversupply Europe. We will supply the Far East, China and Malaysia so that we don’t flood Europe."

He described U.K. retailers as becoming increasingly difficult with their own security audits and German stores becoming stricter over minimum pesticide residue levels.

However, on a general level he was upbeat about how the harvest was shaping up predicting volume increases of more than 10%.

"All the varieties have more than enough bunches on them. The vines are growing well now that temperatures are picking up – it’s looking good."

He said with high volumes growers would have to work on offering good quality fruit with a uniform consistency.

Related stories: South African table grape exports finish on a high

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