See also the “Wine”, "Dried fruit", "Fruit" and “Deciduous fruit” chapters.


1. Overview

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

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: (adapted);; Table grape market value chain on 


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

  • 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.

 Further reference:


4. Transformation

Find the “Transformation” option at

Hortfin is a R600 billion, special purpose development financing vehicle established by the deciduous, table grape and wine industries. The custodian of Hortfin is the deciduous fruit industry, supported by the Jobs fund and Land Bank. It targets mostly agri entrepreneurs from previously disadvantaged groups. Read more at

The Power of the Grape "tells the story of empowerment projects and new partnerships in the North West Province, Mpumalanga, the Orange River, the Olifants River, the Berg River Valley and South Africa’s oldest grape region, the Hex River Valley”. Find this and the Success stories options under “Communications” on the South African Table Grape Industry website –


5. National strategy and government contact

  • Table grapes is looked at in chapter 6 of the National Development Plan (NDP) as areas in which jobs can be created. It is an important crop for the country having high growth potential while being labour intensive (Sihlobo, 2018).
  • Find details of the different directorates at the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) under "Branches" at
  • The Perishable Products Exports Control Board (PPECB) acts for government in terms of the Agricultural Products Standards Act 119 of 1990 and controls and certifies that quality standards of these products are met. See


6. Role players

Associations and industry organisations

  • Fresh Produce Exporters’ Forum (FPEF) Tel: 021 526 0474
  • Fruit SA Tel: 012 007 1150
  • South African Society for Enology and Viticulture (SASEV) Tel: 021 889 6311 
  • South African Table Grape Industry (SATI) Tel: 021 863 0366 On the website find contact details for the regional co-ordinators in the Orange, Olifants, Berg and Hex river areas, and in Limpopo.
  • Sustainability Initiative of South Africa (SIZA) Tel: 0861 111 568

Training and research

Find the “Research & technology” option at

The Table Grape Academy comprises the:

  • Viticulture (Table Grape Science) lecturing post at Stellenbosch University.
  • SATI/ARC/ Elsenburg Modular Course in Table Grape production.
  • Audio Visual Materials and other training materials used by the industry for the industry.
  • Various bursaries.
  • Various training and mentorship programmes for emerging producers and middle managers.

The Modular Course in Table Grape Production is presented by SATI, ARC-Infruitec/Nietvoorbij and Elsenburg


Developing skills and best practices for grape farmers in the Northern Cape

A long-term empowerment programme in the Northern Cape has helped previously disadvantaged farmers improve their grape farming knowledge and financial management skills. The project is an Agricultural Research Council (ARC) led collaboration between several government and non-governmental organisations, as well as two private companies in the fruit and wine industry. Since 1997, the project has offered farmers days, business management training courses, workshops, and on-farm consultations to the communities of Eksteenskuil and Releaboga. The project has resulted in many new wine and raisin grape vineyards being established.

Source: Agricultural Research Council (ARC)

  •  ARC-Infruitec/Nietvoorbij Tel: 021 809 3100 Training covers: (i) Selection of cultivars and site selection (ii) Soil preparation and establishment of trees (iii) Irrigation principles and practices (iv) Fertilisation principles and practices (v) Weed control (vi) Canopy management and suckering (vii) Identification and control of pests and diseases (viii)Harvesting and post-harvest handling of fruit.
  • Cape Peninsular University of Technology (CPUT) Horticulture Tel: 021 959 6512 National Diplomas in agriculture and agricultural management, as well as BTech and MTech degrees focusing on viticulture and oenology
  • Elsenburg Agricultural Training Institute Tel: 021 808 9111 Table Grape Production is presented at Elsenburg as a complete Viticulture module both within the B Agric programme (3 year degree programme) and the Higher Certificate programme (2 year certificate programme).
  • HORTGRO Science Tel: 021 882 8470
  • Institute for Grape and Wine Sciences (IGWS) A joint venture between the South African wine and table grape industries and Stellenbosch University to enhance the international competitiveness of the wine and table grape industries.
  • Lowveld College of Agriculture Tel: 013 753 3064 Short courses in table grape production are given
  • South African Agri Academy Tel: 021 880 1277
  • Stellenbosch University Department of Horticultural Science Tel: 021 808 2112 Department of Viticulture and Oenology Tel: 021 808 4545

Companies: exporters


Companies: services and inputs


7. Websites and publications

  • Refer to websites listed earlier in this chapter e.g.
  • The annual Fresh Fruit Exporter Directory gives trade statistics for the table grapes and other fruit sectors. Download it at the Fresh Produce Exporters’ Forum (FPEF) website,
  • Table grapes is covered in the Department of Agriculture, Forestry & Fisheries (DAFF) annual publications on market value chains. Find these on the Directorate Marketing web pages at The Abstract of Agricultural Statistics on the DAFF website (take “Branches”, “Administration” and “Statistics and economic analysis”) includes statistics on grapes – production, sales on markets, exports, purchases for processing etc. DAFF also has “Production guidelines: grapes” which can be downloaded under the “Resource centre” option on its website.
  • The ARC-Infruitec/Nietvoorbij has a list of numerous publications on table grape production. This can be found on its pages at Also from them is series of full colour pamphlets discussing how to identify, control and prevent various diseases and pests in the vineyard. Contact 021 809 3305.
  • Issue 10 (September 2017) of Agripreneur sees the National Agricultural Marketing Council (NAMC) Transformation Review Committee (TRC) visit black-players in the table grape sector. Find the document at
  • The DAFF-NAMC Trade Probe 70 (Aug 2017) contains an outline of South Africa’s table grape opportunities under the SACU-EU Economic Partnership Agreement. Find the document at

Some articles

Sources of information for this chapter:; the Fresh Fruit Exporter Directory at