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Final 2022/23 South African Table Grape Estimate Predicts Drop in Exports

March 14, 2023

South Africa is expected to produce 63.6 million cartons of export-ready table grapes in the 2022/23 season, a decrease of 18.2% compared with last season, according to the third and final season crop estimate released earlier this month by South African Table Grape Industry. The new estimate, which came in as the bulk of the harvest had been completed, is 11.4% lower than SATI’s first estimate, which was released in November. The downward revision was the result of lower-than-expected yields in key production regions for grapes already harvested and packed, as well as the expectation that yields for grapes not yet harvested would also be lower than initially predicted.

At 4.5 kilograms of table grapes per carton, the latest estimate of 63.6 million cartons inspected for export this season is equivalent to 286,200 metric tons, with a 3% margin of error. Up to week 8, a total of 58.4 million cartons had been inspected for export, which was 10% less than at the same time last season. Meanwhile, actual exports as of week 8 stood at 44.6 million cartons, 19% lower compared with the same point of last season. Nationwide inspection volumes by week 8 amounted to 2.9 million cartons, which was 45% lower than at the same week of last season.

SATI ascribed a large part of the smaller numbers to lower yields in the Hex River region. The estimated crop for this region has been adjusted to 20.64 million cartons, a reduction of 3.33 million cartons or 13.9% compared with the previous estimate. As of early March, mostly Autumn Crisp and Crimson varieties were being packed in the Hex River region. The drop in output has not necessarily reduced quality. “Cooler temperatures during the day encourage good Crimson coloring,” reported SATI in a newsletter. “To date, arrival quality has received positive feedback.”

The harvest is now complete in the Orange River and Northern Provinces regions with actual inspections standing at 16.4 million and 5.6 million cartons, respectively.

The harvest in the Olifants River region was expected to be mostly wrapped up during week 10 (March 6 to 12) with Crimson and Autumn Crisp the final varieties to be packed. The final estimate for the Olifants River region was unchanged at 3 million cartons.

The final estimate for the Berg River region of 17.9 million cartons was also unchanged from earlier estimates. Packing is expected to conclude in the Berg River region during week 11 (March 13 to 19) with Autumn Crisp, Sweet Globe, Allison, Scarlotta and Adora Seedless among the final varieties to be packed.

Images: SATI

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