Adverse Weather and Logistics Disruptions Mark the End of the South African 2022/23 Grape Season

Fresh Grape
South Africa
Market & Price Trends
Sustainability & Environmental Impact
Published Mar 30, 2023
The South African grape season for 2022/23 has been marked by adverse weather and logistical problems. According to official reports from the South African Table Grape Industry, export is expected to suffer due to reduced grape production with an 18.2% YoY drop in volume and a total output of 286,200 MT in the 2022/23 season. Tridge's predictions for South African grape exports are linked to lower shipping quantities and are expected to be lower by almost 20% YoY

The South African 2022/23 grape season has been marked by adverse weather conditions and logistical disruptions, causing difficulties for farmers and exporters. Heavy rains and floods in some areas have led to delays in harvesting, while droughts in others have impacted grape quality and yields. The grape harvest in South Africa has been revised down to 63.6M cartons (4.5 kg each) destined for and controlled for export due to adverse weather. One of the main reasons is a lower estimate for the Hex River region, where heavy rains lowered the grape volume by 13.9% YoY to 20.64 M cartons. The combined volumes of the Olifants River, Hex River, and Berg River Regions historically contribute approximately 62% to exports.

Logistical disruptions also played a role, with transport and shipping delays causing further headaches for exporters. The wind has been less disruptive this month than in February when the port lost 242 hours due to high-speed gusts. March has thus far seen 87 hours of wind delays, compared to 195 hours for the entire month of March last year. This has increased costs and lower profits for many in the industry.

Top 10 Trade flows of South African Grapes

Source: Tridge

South Africa remained a high-quality Southern Hemisphere producer in its traditional markets. While volumes were down, the quality of grapes was satisfactory. Exports to the EU have increased by 6% over the last four years, according to the compound annual growth rate (CAGR) reaching 39.90M MT cartons (4.5 kg each) in 2021/22. UK exports (16.67M MT cartons) have remained consistent, with a 4% CAGR increase over the same period. Over the last four years, exports to Canada increased at a CAGR of 19% to 4.47M MT cartons, while exports to the US increased by 40% to 826K MT cartons. South Africa had an advantage over other Southern Hemisphere-producing countries due to its proximity to Europe and free trade agreements with the EU and the UK. Together, EU countries and the UK accounted for 76% of table grape exports. Still, despite past growth, lowered production for the 2022/23 season will negatively reflect on trade. According to official reports by the South African Table Grape Industry, with lowered production of grapes in South Africa, an 18.2% YoY drop in volume with a total output of 286,200 MT, expectations are that export will suffer.

Overall there is a feeling of opportunities lost for South African traders, especially considering that volumes of competitive suppliers like Chile were down in the EU market. Despite these challenges, however, many South African grape farmers and exporters are determined to overcome the obstacles and continue to produce high-quality grapes for the global market. Tridge’s predictions for South African grape exports are linked with lower quantities available for shipping and are expected to be down almost 20% YoY, from 74.61M MT cartons in season 2021/22.

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