South African table grape exports have finally caught up with last year's levels, following several months of shipments being significantly lower year-on-year despite higher intake volumes.
As of week 7 total exports totalled 45.7 million cartons, compared to 45.9 million exported by the same time last year, according to data from the South African Table Grape Industry (SATI) association.
The volume of grapes inspected and passed for export is considerable up on last year, at 60 million compared to 51.5 million.
However, for most of the season so far exports had been considerably lower year-on-year despite a higher intake, amid ongoing logistical issues in South Africa and around the world.
Exports so far are now running slightly higher than the 2019-20 season, which had seen shipments of 44.7 million cartons by week 7. And they are much higher than the previous campaign, which by this time had seen 40.9 million cartons exported.
Looking at the different markets to which grapes have been exported to this season compared to the last one, shipments to the EU are lower at 24.7 million cartons compared to 25.9 million, and to the U.K, they are also slightly down at 9.8 million compared to 10.4 million.
But to many other smaller destinations there is growth, such as to Canada, where exports are up to 3.3 million cartons from 2.7 million, the Middle East - 2.5 million from 2 million - and South East Asia - up to 2 million from 1.9 million.
In a regional overview of the country's production, SATI said: "While the packing season is drawing to a close in certain regions, other regions are now starting to peak. The fruit availability in these regions is good and the fruit quality is also excellent."
The season of the Northern Province region has already come to an end, and the Orange River region will probably close its season during the next week or two, it said.
"Both these regions have experienced challenging weather conditions during the past season which had a detrimental effect on the yield of some cultivars," SATI said.