The Hex River harvest is seven to ten days late and is expected to end soon. The market is short on white grapes. The Orange River white grape harvest is also smaller. White seedless acreage, making up only 8% of the Hex River total, has increasingly been replaced by red seedless in this region.

Water supply is very tight and there is no extra supply to buffer the effect of temperatures over 40°C. Under the circumstances, the harvest from the Hex River is considered promising, with good sugars and holding ability.

Some importers in the EU and UK are already making plans to introduce Indian grapes to their markets earlier to cover the shortfall in white grapes. “This will hopefully stabilise prices,” an exporter says. He continues: “We can expect competition from India in the first two weeks of February. Competition with India is increasing every year and starting earlier. The South African industry is relieved about the price stability experienced this past festive season in Europe, but the positive effect is, to a degree, cancelled out by an unfavourable exchange rate (a stronger Rand) and lower volumes.”

Another trader comments that he believes more and efficient supermarket programming has played a role, along with lower volumes, in creating the price stability this season. – Fresh Plaza

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