South Africa boosts grape export forecast

South Africa boosts grape export forecast

South Africa has increased its table grape export forecast following "very good quality and harvest conditions" in the Northern Provinces and the three Western Cape production regions.

In its third forecast, The South African Table Grape Industry (SATI) pegged expected volumes at between 65,3 million and 69,8 million cartons (4.5 kg equivalent), putting them on a similar level to the first forecast in late October.

The forecast was cut in January after heavy rains at the start of the year hit the key Orange River region.

In its latest update, SATI said the Northern Provinces are on track to reach higher intake volumes due to favorable summer weather towards the end of the season.

A new low of 7,5 and a high of 7,8 million cartons are estimated.

"The three Western Cape based regions, namely the Olifants, Hex and Berg river regions continue to expect healthy volumes as grapes are ripening well and packing picks up pace," it said.

"This positive outlook is due to very good weather, enough water availability after last winter’s rainfall, large berry sizes and the overall good quality of grapes."

In the Orange River region, the last few producers are busy concluding the season.

"Due to the two-week delay to the start of the season, the effect of the rain at the beginning of the year had less of an impact on the later cultivars than initially estimated," SATI said.

"Producers also took great care in harvesting and sorting grapes during packing, which contributed to the eventual good volumes. In hindsight, the better-than-expected volumes despite the rain indicate that the first estimate was too conservative. A new low of 18,0 and high of 18,3 million cartons is estimated."

Last season South Africa packed 66.15 million boxes of grapes for export, up from 61.13 the previous season.