The market for grapes is in motion. In addition to a growing production, seasonal changes worldwide are shaping up the market. With the South African season finishing a little earlier than expected, the delayed supply from South America and the northern hemisphere still unable to produce, India has a luxurious position. The country continues dominating the market, even though the supply from South America is getting better and better.
The global grape production is estimated at 21.1 million tonnes, an increase of 479,000 tonnes. The prospect for international sales remains stable at 2.7 million tonnes.
In this article, we describe the market situation for grapes in various countries worldwide. The markets covered are: South Africa, India, Brazil, Chile, Peru, Argentina, China, Mexico, Europe, the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Greece, Turkey, Israel, Egypt, Russia, the United States, Canada, Australia and Malaysia.
South African season: hot and dry
The season in South Africa is coming to a close. The start of the campaign was marked by hot and dry weather, which resulted in smaller sizes. Because of these smaller sizes, the Far and Middle East purchased fewer grapes. However, the European market remained good. The hot, dry weather also gave a good momentum to the start of the season.
South Africa regained access to the Thai market. Some volumes were shipped to this destination, but next year the export volumes to Thailand are expected to increase. The bulk of the new plantings are intended to cover the growing demand from Asia.
Due to the lack of rainfall this year, there may be some problems next season. Water availability has been sharply reduced in several places, with peaks of up to 20 percent of the normal level.
India profiting from international market
Due to the South African season finishing earlier than expected and the lower overall exports from the African country, as well as a delayed start in South America, India’s season has had a flying start. While a kilo of grapes in the domestic market can yield around 30 rupees, that same kilo of grapes on the European market reaches up to 45 rupees.
Considerable investments have gone to the cultivation of Indian grapes in order to improve the product’s quality and manage to meet the European standards. Also the MRLs, which were suspected to be too high, have been properly monitored in recent months. That has ensured compliance of Indian grapes to the European standards and done away with any uncertainty about their MRLs. The Thompson Seedless is the most important variety, a grape that is popular in the European market and which Indian producers have managed to secure their position.
Brazil producing two harvests per year
The Brazilian production goes mainly to the domestic market. A trader explains 60 percent of the crop is marketed locally, while the other 40 percent is shipped to other countries. The main export markets are Europe, North America, the Middle East and Asia. And while the season usually peaks in the second half of the year, there are growers who are committed to carrying out two harvests per year. Last season was generally positive. One grower reported an increase in production volumes last year. There is more planted this year, so production is expected to increase.
Chile shifts focus to U.S.
Chile’s focus in recent years has shifted from Europe to the United States. With that choice to ship more volumes to the U.S., Europe has faced supply shortages. At this time of the year, the Old Continent is largely dependent on supplies from the South American country. Chilean exporters get better prices by exporting to the U.S. instead of to Europe.
Moreover, estimates have pointed to a smaller production, amounting to 925,000 tonnes. Meanwhile, exports are expected to fall by 10,000 tonnes, down to 740,000 tonnes. Over the past three years, the export of grapes had only increased.
Peruvian growth continues
With a moderate growth of 10,000 tonnes, the Peruvian production amounts to 510,000 tonnes. New plantations are now becoming productive. Exports are expected to increase by 15,000 tonnes to 295,000 tonnes. This growth is due to expansions in major export markets, namely China and the EU, where demand for grapes continues to increase. The Chinese market in particular remains a major export destination. Trends point to the growth of seedless grapes, but the cultivation of these varieties in Peru is still in its infancy. Chile remains the main competitor.
Argentina expects lower exports
Due to a decline in the country’s acreage, Argentina expects to export fewer grapes. Production is estimated at 100,000 tonnes. It has been estimated that exports will fall to 20,000 tonnes.
Chinese production continues to grow
The Chinese production is expected to grow by 800,000 tonnes, contributing to a total production amounting to 9.6 million tonnes. Exports will increase by 35,000 tonnes to 165,000 tonnes. The growth is mainly due to lower prices and good quality, which make the grapes attractive for neighbouring Asian countries. Imports, mainly from Chile and Peru, will amount to 250,000 tonnes.
Growing demand for organic grapes in Mexico
Despite the higher price, the market for organic grapes is growing in Mexico. The season starts in May and lasts until July. The campaign follows the Chilean season, so competition is limited. The bulk of the exports go to the U.S. and Canada.
European production on the rise
Despite the Russian boycott, the USDA estimates that exports will remain stable at 105,000 tonnes, with the North African and Middle Eastern markets as the main clients. The production increased by 49,000 tonnes to 1.7 million tonnes. Estimates point to imports falling by 600,000 tonnes due to stable demand and higher domestic production.
The Netherlands: good price, good demand, good market
For months, grape prices have been good. South Africa had expected a “monster crop”, but that estimate was revised several times. The impact of drought took a toll on the volumes and with the current value of the rand there is money to earn for the importers. In other years, there were still sometimes grapes in storage, but now they are arriving to an almost empty market. And since prices are good, but not extremely high, the product is also well absorbed by the market.
A lot of late varieties were harvested in South Africa. This resulted in less Red Globe coming from the Hex River. Many Crimson grapes have been planted. The last batches of South African grapes will arrive around mid-April. India started with great prices, of around 14 Euro, but they have now been reduced by a few Euro. India will be the main player in the grape market in April and early May and will be followed by the supply from Egypt.
After the lower production last year, the Indian grape harvest this year is estimated to be 30% to 35% greater than normal. There are also Chilean grapes on the market, but these arrived two weeks later. Importers say this delay has been the result of the impact of El Niño.
Belgium: Chilean, South African and Indian grapes
Grapes from Chile, South Africa and India are available on the wholesale market in Brussels. White seedless grapes are of good quality and are available in limited supply. Red seedless grapes are more widely available, but the demand for these grapes is also higher. There is a more than sufficient supply of blue grapes with seeds and this is keeping prices under pressure.
France: supply from South Africa
French traders are slowly switching from grapes from the southern hemisphere to those from the northern hemisphere. The supply is currently still mainly from South Africa. The price stands at an average of 12.50 Euro per 5 kg. There are also some imports from Peru. This Red Globe costs 2.35 Euro per kilo.
Germany: attractive prices
South African and Indian grapes are available on German wholesale markets. Prices for white seedless grapes have been attractive and red and blue grapes have remained stable. Supply from South America is expected to arrive in the coming weeks. Next week, the first grapes from Chile should hit the market.
Italy: high prices for imported grapes
In Italy, off-season prices are high because of the early end of the South African season. The early start of India has been unable to compensate for this, so the supply volume is small and prices are high. This applies only to white grapes, as red grapes are still imported from South Africa. The Italian season runs from July to December and the export season lasts from August to November. In that period, the country competes with Spanish grapes.
Spain: seedless grapes cheaper than regular grapes
The Spanish season is expected to start in June; consequently, at this time, only imported grapes are available. Importers are having a difficult season, with smaller volumes from South Africa and delayed supply from Chile and Peru, which has resulted in high prices. Only India has been able to supply stable and larger volumes of white seedless grapes. Red seedless grapes yield between 2.90 and 3.30 Euro per kilo. Only small volumes have arrived from Chile and Peru and traders expect the market to pick up in the coming weeks.
White grapes are expensive. Remarkably, seedless grapes are cheaper than regular varieties. This is also partly due to the fact that Spaniards prefer grapes with seeds. White seedless grapes cost 2.70 Euro per kilo, while regular grapes stand at around 3 Euro per kilo.
Greece wants to extend the season
The financial crisis of recent years has made things difficult for grape growers in Greece. The country’s production has grown over the past few seasons. Producers aim to extend the season into November and possibly December. This could be done by protecting the bunches from the rain. The main export markets are the United Kingdom and other countries in Europe. Most grape growers can be found at the foot of the Olympus.
Turkish production falls
Frost in Turkey’s main production region will cause the harvest to fall to 2 million tonnes, according to estimations from the USDA. This also has implications for exports, which are expected to amount to 179,000 tonnes, partly due to the loss of the Russian market.
Israel is committed to extending the season
At present, South African Flame seedless and Prime seedless are available in the Israeli market. Flame prices amount to around 6.52 Euro per kilo, while the Prime costs 5.67 Euro per kilo. The majority of the grapes are sold in small markets; major retailers currently offer no grapes.
Growers in Israel have strengthened their presence in the domestic market in recent years. Improvements in the cultivation and storage, in combination with the development of new varieties, have made it possible for Israeli grapes to remain on supermarket shelves until early March. This is long after the end of the season, which typically lasts until September.
Despite these advances, there remains a gap in early spring when it is, therefore, possible to import. Because of the good prices reached by imported grapes, growers will aim to bring the harvest to the market as quickly as possible. The first grapes from the early regions, such as the Jordan Valley, are expected to hit the market in the coming weeks.
Egypt is committed to exporting to China
The Egyptian grape sector wants to gain access to the Chinese market. Next month, a Chinese delegation is expected to conduct on-site inspections. According to the Egyptians, this should have no impact on the traditional markets. Grape growing in Egypt is on the rise; exports have grown from 5,000 tonnes in 1996 to the 110,000 tonnes achieved last year.
Russia registers decline in volume
With a decrease of around 9,300 tonnes, the Russian production is estimated at 90,000 tonnes. Imports fell by 51,000 tonnes to 250,000 tonnes and the purchasing power of consumers is under pressure, leading to falling consumption. Moreover, as a result of the boycott, there is less supply from Turkey. Grapes arrive mostly from Latin America, South Africa and China.
U.S.: more volume despite drought
Despite the drought growers are suffering in California, production is expected to increase by 29,000 tonnes and reach a total of 984,000 tonnes. Exports remain stable at 390,000 tonnes, with Canada and Mexico as the main destinations.
The supply of red grapes from Chile has been slow, but it is expected to pick up in the coming weeks. The supply of white grapes is good. This has been reflected in the prices, which have been higher for the red than for white grapes.
Canada: high prices in supermarkets
After a few weeks with persistent problems with red grapes, the market is now expected to recover. Prices this season have been exceptionally high. With the end of the season in California, prices remained high until the arrival of grapes from Chile. The supply arrives via Philadelphia. A trader states that the peak price reached for grapes in Philadelphia was 40 CAD (27 Euro), representing a retail price of 75 CAD (51 Euro) per box. In the supermarkets, prices stood at 14 CAD (9.50 Euro).
Australia: plenty of opportunities for export
The Australian grape sector sees great opportunities in exports. At the moment, there is more demand for the grapes from the international market than from the domestic market. In recent years, the position of these two markets has shifted in favour of the export market: 60 percent for export, 40 percent for the domestic market. Export markets pay a higher price for the grapes. In countries like Japan, the Philippines, China and the Middle East, the demand for grapes is higher than the available supply. A Chinese importer reported it would only be able to import 5 containers instead of the 80 containers they wanted to purchase. The season in Australia has been good. Dry weather and cool nights allowed for high Brix levels. The season started earlier and will still last for a few months.
Malaysia: grapes in top 5
Grapes are in the top 5 of Malaysia’s most popular fruits among consumers. One importer said they expected an increase in the consumption of South African grapes. South African grapes are more attractive than the Californian in terms of both taste and price, according to the importer.