EU table grape market situation "completely different" for southern supply

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EU table grape market situation

Table grape promotions will be underway over the coming weeks in what Exsa Europe managing director Eddy Kreukniet hopes will lead to better movement for South African fruit.

Exsa Europe managing director Eddy Kreukniet

Exsa Europe managing director Eddy Kreukniet

Speaking with, the executive said South African table grape volumes were below expectations so far, in a market that still had competing product from Peru and Brazil on the shelves.

"It's better that the market is a bit underbalanced. Everyone remembers how difficult the market was at the end of last December and the beginning of January," Kreukniet said.

"The situation is completely different in Europe. Last year we had the highest retail prices ever happening in the end of November and the beginning of December, and then there were pretty unexpected volumes later on in December.

"This year promises to be better on the retail side and we're prepared for promotions in the coming weeks. There will be more fruit consumed compared to last year and that will lead to a much better rotation."

He highlighted Peru had exported a record table grape crop to Europe in 2015, while the Brazilian situation was also quite different.

"Brazil has had a longer season than last year and more has been left over than last season.

"We know the Brazilian growers want to start earlier with their white seedless grapes before the rains start in Brazil, and this clashed with the European crop, pushing the price down.

"On red seedless they are still going on and the fruit is of reasonable quality but not more than that - it has to go."

He said a stronger dollar to euro exchange rate meant Chilean shippers would likely try to ship elsewhere, but would still need to sell a certain volume in Europe.

"The Chilean exporters will do whatever they can to sell less fruit in Europe," he said.

Kreukniet also highlighted a very high euro to rand exchange rate would certainly benefit South African exporters.

"The cost will be particularly influenced by exchange rates. Today the exchange rate is at the highest point in five years, which is better than what was calculated three months ago," he said.

At the time of writing, the euro was selling at ZAR16.74, representing a 39.6% jump on the April 11 rate and an 80.6% rise on the rate in early 2011.

Kreukniet said there was still uncertainty about how India would affect the market in early 2016.

"The question is what's going to happen? India is going to have a little bit of an earlier season than last year and it could be one of their best seasons ever, so I think they will turn to Europe and the U.K.

"As we speak there is fruit on the water but the volumes would not in any way influence the market. More volume will start to arrive in mid-February."

He said the Indian deal would no doubt also have an impact on later season South African exports.

"We sell a lot of Thompson seedless at the end of March. Obviously there will be a lot of South African fruit then.

"Later varieties come out of the Hex Valley. You still have production in week 12."

Looking further down the track in 2016, Kreukniet estimated the Russian ban on Turkish fruit would negatively impact the European market.

"It's still far away because Turkey peaks in September. I think it will always have a negative effect.

"But the sultana grape from Turkey faces a lot of competition from Italy, Spain and Greece so it's not an easy variety to handle.

"There is a market but not in retail as in Holland, Belgium, France and in Germany hardly any retailers have Turkish grapes in their programs. It's more wholesale driven."


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