A grape is the fruit that grows on the deciduous woody vines of the genus Vitis. Grapes can be eaten fresh or used for making jam, juice, jelly, vinegar, wine, grape seed extracts, raisins and grape seed oil. In South Africa grapes are grown either to be pressed, dried or for ready consumption from the table.
Table grapes are grapes intended for consumption while they are fresh, as opposed to grapes grown for wine production, juice production, or for drying into raisins. Table varieties usually have lower sugar content than wine grapes and are more flavourful when eaten. Their flavours, however, do not survive fermentation and their low sugar content means that any wine produced from them is weak, bland-tasting and easy to deteriorate.
The Orange River; the valleys of the Hex, Berg and Olifants Rivers; and Limpopo province are the main producers of table grapes (find the “Regions” option at www.satgi.co.za).
Grapes other than “Table grapes”
The main wine grape producing areas are Worcester, Paarl, Stellenbosch, Malmesbury, Robertson, the Olifants River, the Orange River and the Little Karoo. The reader is referred to the “Dried fruit” and “Wine” chapters for information on grapes used for those sectors.
Viticulture (from the Latin word for vine) is the science, production and study of grapes which deals with the series of events that occur in the vineyard. When the grapes are used for winemaking, it is also known as viniculture. It is one branch of the science of horticulture.
Oenology (sometimes Enology) is the science of wine and winemaking i.e. after vine-growing and grape harvesting. See the separate chapter “Wine”.
Source: wikipedia.org (adapted); www.satgi.co.za; Table grape market value chain on www.daff.gov.za
2. International business environment
- The biggest exporters of table grapes are Chile, the USA, Italy, Netherlands, Peru and South Africa.
- The biggest importers of table grapes are the USA, Netherlands, UK, Germany, China and Hong Kong China.
Source: SATI, 2014/15
World production is forecast flat at 24.3 million tons as growth in China and India makes up for weather related losses in the European Union and Turkey (USDA, June 2018).
3. Local business environment
The reader is encouraged to visit www.satgi.co.za. The Statistics Book provides a comprehensive picture of the industry. Also worth reading is the latest annual Table Grape Market Value Chain Profile at www.daff.gov.za.
- Table and dry grapes are one of the most important deciduous fruit grown in South Africa, taking into consideration their foreign exchange earnings, employment creation and linkage with support institutions.
- Table grapes sold in the export markets generate a greater unit price than that achieved on the local market. For this reason, management orientation and understanding of the rules of the export markets are critical factors in the pathway to success in table grape production.
- Up to 90% of the total production is exported, mostly to Europe and the UK where South Africa enjoys preferential market access through the Trade Development and Cooperation Agreement (TDCA) between South Africa and the EU. Estimated turnover for the sector is estimated at over R1.5 billion per annum.
- The bulk of sales to the consumer are by means of contractual agreements via preferred category suppliers to the large supermarket chains. Furthermore, various export companies or agents conduct work on the basis of consignment sales on behalf of the growers or packers. The industry operates in a deregulated environment where prices are determined by the market forces of demand and supply.
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