Europe: year's end brings high volume and low prices for grapes

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Europe: year's end brings high volume and low prices for grapes

Extended availability of domestic volume shook up the European grape market this year and has left a supply glut from Brazilian imports.grapes_square

With perishable product in storage, importers hope to sell the Brazilian supply soon and recover from low trade prices, explained Jan Marc Schulz, procurement chief of SFI Rotterdam B.V. in the Netherlands.

"They [Brazil] have sent more than the previous year probably because for the exchange rate, the European market looked favorable," Schulz told

"Maybe they underestimated the quality and storage potential of the European crop, with excellent grapes from Greece and also stocks of Spanish and Italian grapes.There are still today Spanish grapes on the market.

"So far the [Brazilian] quality is good but it is now a question of shelf life. The best situation you can have is a container coming in and being sold immediately but any stock being built up is never good."

De Groot International import manager Thimo Leukel explained that an extended offer from Greece delayed Brazil's sales possibilities, prompting the current situation.

"Last year there was a gap and not that much European supply available, so Brazil came into an empty market. This year the market was still full. There weren’t good sales at the start, so that’s why there is still stock," Leukel said.


This past month Peru has also come onto the market, continuing with an upward trend in volume. Leukel said more vines in Peru have meant more fruit for mainland Europe.

"Every year they have more volume. There are a lot of new grapes and new vines. This is basically the first year that I see quite a bit of white and red seedless in the European market. They normally go to the U.K., which means they have more white seedless and red seedless. Every year they will have more but the main variety will still be Red Globe," he said.

Despite growth from Peru, however, Schulz said the South American nation still did not have sufficient volume to significantly influence the market.

"Still the Peruvian volume is very little compared to other origins. Even though they have an increase, it's not of an impact," Schulz said.

"If Chile sends 10% more, this 10% of the Chilean volume is quite something. If Peru, sends 20% more of their volume, it’s still not the same."

At the moment, Leukel said the main challenge for Peru will be selling its Red Globe volume and competing against remaining supply of the variety from Italy.

South Africa

Leukel said his company was already receiving some volume from South Africa and Namibia. Schulz indicated that the southern African import season would not see real steam until mid-December.

Despite frost reports out of the Orange River Region, Leukel said quality and volume were expected to remain stable.

"It's a normal supply. They say Orange River has a lot of frost damage but I see good quantities coming. There’s definitely not a shortage," Leukel said.

He anticipated better prices for South Africa as Brazil moves out of the market.

Chile and Argentina

Although frosts should not affect the South African supply, they will have an impact on Chilean and Argentine volume in January and February.

Despite extensive losses from these countries, Schulz anticipated a positive price boost for Chile.

"The entry for Chile will be as good as last year. This is mainly due to lack of produce from Argentina. By the time Chile enters, Brazil and Peru will have no significance anymore," Schulz said.

"The competitors are South Africa and Argentina, one being severely hit. Therefore, I say it looks good: less volume, good prices."

Low South American volume will mean a very different post-Christmas market than normal, Leukel said.

"For this season, you won’t see shortages before Christmas like you normally see. But after Christmas from weeks 2 to 6, there you will see a different market than normal," he said.

This will mean easier work for traders and a tougher run for retailers.

"The only difficult time is January, February, March, which you won’t see this year. It will be easy for importers to sell but it will be difficult for retailers to get the volume they need. The guys with big contracts will have difficulty making sure they get their grapes," Leukel said.


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