Agriculture

Grape Industry set for record year

The Western Cape Minister of Agriculture, Dr Ivan Meyer, welcomes the news that the South African Table Grape Industry reached a total intake for the 2020/2021 season of 73 million cartons. This is significantly more than the 66.15 million cartons recorded last year.

Meyer: “This is 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”.

Packing is finishing this week in the Hex River region.

According to SATI CEO Willem Bestbier, the good intake volumes are welcome amidst a challenging year locally and globally due to Covid-19 and several lockdowns in most countries.

Highlighting the economic impact of the increase, Bestbier said:

“Three of the five table grape production regions are in the Western Cape. Most tables grapes are exported via the Cape Town Port, which benefits downstream industries. 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. However, as an industry, we are grateful that we could conclude the packing season reasonably successfully.”

Bestbier continues: “While it was one of the most unprecedented seasons in our history, we are blessed with the higher volumes of product in most regions. 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.”

Commenting on the table grape industry’s performance, Western Cape Department of Agriculture’s Senior Economist Andrew Partridge highlighted that several factors supported the increase.

Partridge: “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.”

“The increased demand for South African table grapes in international and local markets is good news for producers. They are likely to benefit from higher outputs without it being accompanied by lower prices,” concluded Meyer.

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