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Bounce Back

South African Table Grape Industry Is Ready To Bounce Back

Cape Town, South Africa: After a tough 2021/22 season, industry association body SATI is pleased to announce that the South African table grape industry is ready once again to confirm its status as a preferred supplier of table grapes in international markets. 

Producers and stakeholders have been proactively planning, assessing how to improve quality on the farm and mitigate as much risk as possible during the transportation of the product. Emphasis has been placed on developing and improving collaborative working relationships within the industry to help address the challenges experienced last season. Significant progress has been made, and South Africa is ready to confirm its status as a quality Southern Hemisphere table grape supplier. 

Mitigating Against Challenges Experienced Last Season 

The 2021/22 South African table grape season was one of the toughest since the post-deregulation era two decades ago. Increases in production cost input, freight costs and logistical challenges placed significant strain on producers. 

In preparation for the coming season, SATI has worked closely with industry role-players including Transnet, the Cape Town Port, Hortgro, the Fresh Produce Exporter’s Forum and other industry associations such as the CGA to develop proactive plans that mitigate against these challenges, facilitating the industry to move forward. 

Intensifying the Drive to Deliver Excellent Quality Grapes 

South African growers and specialist technical support teams remain committed to producing, packing, and shipping top-quality grapes. 

This is evident in their ongoing on-farm production improvements, which include: 

  •  Post-harvest protocols and product handling: feedback received from various technical forums within the industry has been positive 
  • Quality and crop control: this is at the forefront and these initiatives have already begun 
  • Monitoring and maintaining optimal cold-storage temperatures: In collaboration with producers and exporters, SATI is currently developing a cold-chain project to monitor temperatures from the packhouse to the marketplace 
  • Packhouses: Producers pack their own fruit in on-farm packhouses as far a possible – a significant capital and resource investment that is indicative of producers’ ongoing commitment to growing and exporting quality product. 
  • Over the last four years exports to the EU have increased by 6% CAGR 
  •  UK exports have remained steady, displaying a 4% CAGR increase over the same period 
  • Exports to Canada grew 19% CAGR over the last four years 
  • Exports to the USA increased by 40% CAGR over the same period and industry is eager to further expand this market. 

Market Access Progress 

South African table grape exports have increased year-on-year for the past five years. SATI is committed to maintaining the industry’s established markets while pursuing market development efforts in emerging markets. 

South Africa remains a quality Southern Hemisphere producer to our traditional markets, and export figures provide positive indicators of the industry’s expansion in the Northern hemisphere. 

*CAGR = Compound annual growth rate. Source: SATI statistics booklet 

Compared to other Southern Hemisphere producing countries, South Africa has the advantage of proximity to Europe and free trade agreements with the European Union and the UK. 

Further expansion to South-East Asian markets remains one of SATI’s strategic objectives, and significant progress has been made in the Philippines. SATI’s China Market Development Campaign successfully launched two years ago and continued last season despite Covid-19 restrictions in China. Industry looks forward to supplying this market with quality South African table grapes in the 2022/23 season. 

Cultivar Consolidation 

To remain aligned with global market trends South African producers have been eliminating less popular cultivars to plant more new generation cultivars. Global consumer trends indicate a preference towards white seedless grapes, and South Africa’s 2022 National Vine Census reflects that producers have remained in line with this trend. 

Tackling Logistical Challenges 

SATI has prioritised addressing logistical challenges, and significant progress has been made in collaboration with industry stakeholders, including Fruit SA members (CGA, FPEF, Hortgro, Subtrop & Berries ZA). 

“By leveraging our Agbiz and Fruit SA memberships, we’ve been able to create impact at the appropriate level. Tangible outcomes that start providing solutions to some of the logistical challenges experienced last season have been achieved,” says SATI CEO AJ Griesel. 

In collaboration with industry role-players (especially Hortgro, FPEF & the CGA) SATI participates in numerous logistical forums geared towards improving efficiencies at the Cape Town Port. Focussed initiatives to improve infrastructure, equipment, and maintenance, as well as port operations and staffing have begun to yield positive outcomes. 

Industry anticipates that the improved Cape Town port capacity across the areas of people, processes and equipment will facilitate more efficient port operations for the coming table grape season. Although, considerable work is still required to resume world-class port operations. 

Looking Ahead 

With so many developments in process, the South African Table Grape Industry looks poised for a positive 2022/23 season. “The South African Table Grape Industry is ready to confirm its status as a preferred exporter, to maintain established markets such as the EU & the UK, to remain a reliable supplier to all export markets and to continue development in emerging markets,”says SATI Board Chairman Anton Viljoen. 

“Our objective remains to ensure that the end consumer receives a quality product on par with the quality table grapes our industry is known for,” he adds. “We anticipate an increased focus on quality and the intensification of quality focus may impact export volumes. Producers’ commitment to continually producing the best quality grapes by adopting and improving on current practises is phenomenal.” 


Press Enquiries: 

Ms. Mecia Petersen 

Market Development & Communications Manager 

+2721 863 0366 

About SATI 

SATI is the unified South African Table Grape Industry Association. All table grape producers are required to register with SATI, which is mandated by law as the industry’s official levy administrator. The levy is required to fund and facilitate market access and development, research and technology, information provision, transformation and training. SATI is dedicated to operating a partnership that strives to maintain South Africa’s position as the preferred country of origin for retailers around the world. 

South African Table Grape Industry 

63 Main Road, Paarl 

Cape Town 

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