The Southern Hemisphere exported 1.315 billion tons of grapes in the 2019/20 marketing year. Even though the Southern Hemisphere 2019-20 grape campaign was hit by the effects of the pandemic, by adapting rapidly, export levels remained fairly stable. Patented varieties are making significant progress compared to classic varieties. Peru’s growth continues, while Chile’s crop was smaller due to adverse weather, political and commercial conditions.
Chile is still the undisputed number one, but its primacy has been challenged in recent years. Chile’s share had dropped from 70% to around 45%. Climatic, structural, and commercial problems complicated business for the Chilean grape sector. Despite this, around 600,000 tons were exported, a volume only slightly lower than the previous year. New varieties and improvements in driving managed to partially compensate for the drought decline. The main market continues to be the US, which traditionally receives half of exports. Chilean companies have a long tradition and experience in the North American market and strong commercial ties with importers and large retail chains. This has not changed substantially in recent years. There was greater movement in the other destinations. Chile partially withdrew from Europe, having importance only towards the end of the campaign. Also Russia no longer buys the volumes of other years. But in contrast, Chile grew in Asia, a continent to which it sends a third of its shipments. With regard to varieties, Chile has reduced its dependence on Thompson and Flame Seedless. These contributed 40% of the shipments 10 years ago but currently only account for 18%. The share of Crimson and Red Globe has remained steady at 22% and 25% respectively. However, patented varieties have seen their exports double in the last year. Despite this progress, Chile was one of the last Southern Hemisphere countries to incorporate them.
In the 2019/20 campaign, Peru set a new export record of almost 400,000 tons. Part of the success is due to the strong shift in production towards new varieties. Initially, Peru produced Red Globe, a variety that contributed 80% of exports. But thanks to a great reconversion effort, the country no longer depends on the Globe Network, which currently only contributes a third of exports. Within the classics, Sugraone and Crimson are also major varieties. But patented ones like Sweet Globe, Sweet Celebration, Jack’s Salute, Timpson, and Allison have seen great progress, with exports increasing by 30-90% during the last year. These 5 contributed 24% of shipments in 2019/20.
India’s grape exports are dwindling, despite a surge in shipments to the EU. The 19% rise in volumes sent to the European Union failed to offset the drop in exports to other key global markets, such as Russia, Sri Lanka, among others. Speaking to India Times, Jagath Khapre, president of the Indian Grape Exporters’ Association, said, “Our estimate is that the export to other countries is lagging by at least 50 per cent as compared to the previous year.
As of February 27, India had exported 52,913 tons of grapes to the EU compared with 44,332 tons on the same day in 2018, according to the Agricultural and Processed Foods Export Development Authority (Apeda). The situation is alarming given that grapes are India’s most valuable fruit export. Growers are also facing problems with phytosanitary issues. “We are awaiting clarification and clear communication from government agencies about the latest issue,” said Khapre. Prices are low in the domestic market too, due to the impact on the crop of the prolonged winter.
Despite experiencing its worst ever drought, the South African Table Grape Industry (SATI) has announced a good table grape crop of just over 62 million cartons (4.5kg/carton), with a drop in production of just 8% from the record 67.5 million cartons harvested in the previous season. The drought has been ongoing for three years in three out of the five production regions, especially in the west of the country.
The Orange River region recorded smaller berries and lower bunch weights, resulting in 7% less than last season. The Northern Provinces Region produced a record crop of 6 million cartons, an increase on last season. The Olifants River region recorded a fall of almost 30% in volumes due to a sustained heatwave. Producers in the Berg River region were also hard hit by the drought, with volumes around 16% lower. The Hex River region’s season was just under 8% lower than last season, which constituted a relatively normal season.
In the past five years, Chile’s table grape planted area declined, but the decrease has slowed down since 2015/16 and the planted area in 2017/18 totalled 48,202 ha. One reason for the shift away from producing grapes is the declining profits they can secure in export markets in the face of increasing competition from abroad and higher expectations of quality, calibre and new varieties. This means table grape producers must convert their orchards to more modern varieties and that requires capital investment. Chile’s first table grape harvest takes place in November and December in the northern regions of Atacama and Coquimbo, where water availability used to be an issue. However, the abundant winter rainfall in 2017/18 replenished reservoirs to almost maximum capacity and the next five campaigns look secure.
Around 80% of Chile’s table grape production is destined for export. In 2016/17, exports were up 6.4% from the previous year to 731,156 tons. The number-one market is the US, accounting for 47% of the total shipments. Grape exports in 2017/18 are projected to drop 1.5% from 2016/17 to volume of 720,000 tons. The peak export month is expected to be April, according to data from ODEPA.
Following a surge in shipments in April and May, Chile’s fresh apples exports in the 2017/18 campaign are expected to reach 731,000 tons, which is roughly considered a normal year’s volumes. Pear exports are expected to decline by 6.6% to 140,000 tons, while the country’s table grape exports are projected to reach 720,000 tons, slipping 1.5% from the 2016/17 level.
With abundant rainfall during the winter and water reservoirs at full capacity, enough water has now been stored up to meet the irrigation needs of the next five campaigns. Yields are expected to reach average levels of a normal year. Total planted area of apple has fallen slightly in the last three years, from 36,206 ha in 2015/16 to 35,937 ha in 2017/18 . Apple producers are converting Fuji orchards into more productive varieties such as Envy, Brookfield, Rosy Glow or Ambrosia, which are demanded by the export markets because of their superior taste, colour, post-harvest and extended shelf life.
Domestic consumption of fresh apples is expected to reach 240,000 tons in 2017/18, which is 24% of the total crop. A further 19% (300,000 tons) is used for processing, with the remaining 58% destined for export. The largest market for Chilean apples is the US, followed by Colombia and Taiwan. Largely as a result of the early harvest, exports of fresh apples in 2016/17 plummeted 35.9% The 2017/18 campaign in contrast has been a regular year and harvest times for the different apple varieties have not been early or delayed.