SOUTH AFRICA – The South African Table Grape Industry (SATI) has announced it has reached a total intake for the 2020/2021 season of 73 million cartons, a rise from the previous year’s 66.15 million cartons.

Three of the five table grape production regions are in the Western Cape with the province’s Department of Agriculture’s Senior Economist Andrew Partridge highlighting that several factors supported the increase.

“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,” said Partridge.

“Greater market access and an increase in exports will lead to an increase in jobs.”

The Western Cape Minister of Agriculture – Dr Ivan Meyer

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, “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.”

The Western Cape Minister of Agriculture, Dr Ivan Meyer, welcomed the news of bumper harvest and access to the lucrative export markets saying, “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.”

Deciduous fruit is the largest sub-sector of the South African fruit industry in terms of area planted, with Table grapes accounting for 42 percent of the total area planted, followed by apples (27 percent), pears (14 percent), peaches (6 percent), plums (6percent), apricots (3 percent) and nectarines (2 percent).

South Africa’s Hortgro says it is expecting a record apple and pear crop this season after “near-perfect growing conditions”.

The exceptional harvests come despite of the Langkloof hail which in January removed between 1.2 million and 1.5 million cartons and the strong March winds that damaged some Grabouw orchards.

Hortgro’s Trade and Markets Manager, Jacques du Preez, said South Africa anticipates 4 percent more apples to be exported, while pear exports are expected to rise by 6 percent.