Murcia, Spain’s grape-growing region, is expecting exports to reach record levels of around 160,000 metric tons (MT) this season.
Last year the region exported 130,000MT, and so this season’s projection would mark a sharp increase.
“It’s more volume than in previous seasons. Spain is growing,” said Joaquín Gómez, president of Murcia-based grower’s association Apoexpa.
Gómez said the volume rise is due to an increase in plantations, and he added that many growers of other fruits have been converting to grapes.
“We are growing around 10% in production every year,” he said.
The Spanish table grape season begins mid-June and ends in early November, depending on the weather. This year they are a little behind compared to the 2017 season.
“If there is an absence of rain, the campaign arrives later and if there are heavy rains, it shortens,” he said.
The industry is currently in the peak harvest for its seedless varieties, which are the most abundant in Murcia.
Exports to China
Gomez said 90% of exports go to the EU market.
“Our main markets are the U.K., Germany and northern European countries like Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Finland,” he said.
He said Spain is also entering other markets such as South Africa, Hong Kong, the United Arab Emirates and Singapore.
The opening of the Chinese market is pending, as they are negotiating the phytosanitary protocols, which they hope to resolve for the next season.
“For mainland China, we hope to bring grapes for the 2019 campaign. There, logically, on those dates we would be competing with the U.S.,” said Gomez.
Another market they are venturing into is Canada, now under improved trade conditions thanks to the free trade agreement between the North American country and the EU.
Plastic trends could drive innovation
Gomez said also predicted that the anti-plastic movement sweeping the globe would lead to some significant changes in packaging for grapes.
“I believe that everyone will want [plastic] to disappear in the coming decades or that volumes will be infinitely smaller than at present, which will force us to innovate in packaging and in new varieties that can withstand longer trips”, he said.