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2020/21 Global Table Grape Exports Expected To Hit Record High
Like the rest of the global agricultural sector, the table grape industry has had to face a variety of challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic this past year, including soaring freight costs, labor shortfalls, worldwide shipping delays and refrigerated container shortages. In Peru, worker strikes hampered shipments in December as the country’s table grape exports were hitting one of their busiest months. In Chile, unseasonal downpours in January led to losses of up to 80% in the O’Higgins Region, the country’s largest grape production area. Meanwhile, the blockage of the Suez Canal in March created a substantial traffic jam on both sides, bringing Indian grape exports destined for Europe to a standstill.
Despite these obstacles, the table grape industry has experienced a successful season, with very little impact on the global table grape output in marketing year (MY)* 2020/21. According to a recent report by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service, global table grape production in MY 2020/21 is estimated to reach approximately 24.7 million metric tons, just below the record volume of 25.0 million tons achieved in MY 2017/18. On the back of this plentiful supply, table grape exports in MY 2020/21 are forecast to surge to a record high in excess of 3.4 million tons.
China is the world’s largest producer and consumer of fresh table grapes. China’s table grape production in MY 2020/21 is predicted to reach 11.0 million tons, corresponding to a 3.8% year-on-year increase. Fruit quality is also being improved with an increasing number of growers investing in greenhouse cultivation and the installation of rain shields. These increases in output and quality are expected to lead to a continued upward trend in exports in MY 2020/21 to 420,000 tons, corresponding to a 16% year-on-year increase.
Peru’s table grape production is projected to continue its upward trend to reach 665,000 tons in MY 2020/21, which would mean Peru surpassing Chile in production for the first time. This higher supply is expected to lift exports to 470,000 tons, with larger volumes to key overseas markets such as the United States and European Union.
Chile’s table grape output is forecast to drop by 20% to 620,000 tons, largely owing to heavy rainfall in January, with the wet weather also reducing the exportable volume. As a result, exports are expected to fall by almost 100,000 tons to 510,000 tons.
South Africa’s table grape production in MY 2020/21 is projected to witness steady growth to 330,000 tons as a result of increased planting area, favorable weather conditions, new plantings coming into full production and the availability of irrigation water. Meanwhile, exports are expected to increase by 27,000 tons to 325,000 tons.
As the largest table grape importer in the world, the United States is estimated to import 670,000 tons of table grapes in MY 2020/21, similar to last season. Production is expected to fall by 34,000 tons to 871,000 tons as a consequence of lower bearing acreage and suboptimal growing conditions. According to the latest trade data, exports in MY 2020/21 dropped by 11,000 tons to 314,000 tons, the lowest level since MY 2009/10.
India’s table grape production and export volume are both expected to remain steady at 2.3 million tons and 185,000 tons, respectively.
Turkey’s table grape production in MY 2020/21 is expected to fall by 50,000 tons to 2.0 million tons, while strong market demand from Russia and Ukraine is predicted to modestly boost exports to 215,000 tons.
The European Union is expected to produce 1.4 million tons of table grapes in MY 2020/21, a year-on-year decrease of 170,000 tons, in large part due to lower output in Italy, a key producer. Exports are expected to remain steady at 80,000 tons, while imports are projected to reach a record 725,000 tons.
In Russia, wine grapes are continuing to attract greater investment than table grapes. Table grape production is forecast to fall slightly to 23,000 tons in MY 2020/21, while imports are expected to increase by 32,000 tons to 320,000 tons.
*The definition of marketing year varies between countries and commodities. With respect to table grapes, the United States is on a May–April marketing year, while all other Northern Hemisphere countries, including China, India, Russia, Turkey and the European Union, are on a June–May marketing year. The Southern Hemisphere countries of Chile, Peru and South Africa are on an October–September marketing year.
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