The South African Table Grape Industry (SATI) is celebrating a bumper intake of 73 million cartons for the 2020/21 season, despite the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the industry. Last year, 66.15 million cartons were recorded.
Western Cape minister of agriculture Dr Ivan Meyer described this as “great news for the Western Cape”.
“The current pandemic has led to an increased demand for healthy foods worldwide, causing further increased demands for fresh fruit and vegetables.
“Greater market access and an increase in exports will lead to an increase in jobs,” Meyer says via a media statement.
This week, the table grape industry wraps up packing in the Hex River Valley region of the province.
SATI CEO Willem Bestbier adds that the good intake volumes are welcome following a particularly challenging year, both locally and internationally as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic and ensuing lockdowns across the world.
According to Bestbier, three of the five table grape production regions are found in the Western Cape. “Most tables grapes are exported via the Cape Town Port, which benefits downstream industries,” he says.
“The focus is not only on the volumes because producers had rain to contend with, wind and operational delays in the port, and global shortages of containers. Logistics and markets were disrupted, which were not ideal for the timing of product arrivals.”
He adds that while it was one of the “most unprecedented” seasons in the Cape table grape industry’s history, most regions produced higher volumes.
“Our farmers, producers and agri-workers remained safe. They will benefit as the industry earns much-needed foreign currency for the country while supporting rural development,” says Bestbier.
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Western Cape department of agriculture senior economist Andrew Partridge highlighted that several factors supported the increase.
“This has been the result of good weather conditions in most regions of the Western Cape during the packing season and is attributable to substantial investments in recent years in replacing old varieties with new higher-yielding varieties. As a result, the yields of table grapes per hectare have increased significantly,” Partridge says.
Meyer concludes that the increased demand for South African table grapes is good for producers and the table grape industry, as they are likely to benefit from higher outputs without it being accompanied by lower prices.