South African Raisins Crop Report, 2022
The South African crop of 2022 reached 77,188 MT as of 3 June 2022. This is according to the statistics issued by Raisins SA based on deliveries made to the seven processing factories in South Africa.
This is 16% ahead of the adjusted estimate made on 15 February 2022 of 72,672 mt after the rain started interfering with the crop. It must be remembered that the original estimate for this crop was 86,012 mt.
So the crop was surprisingly big, despite the raisins. The crop could have exceeded 90,000 mt if the rain had not interfered. The growers witnessed vast quantities of grapes destroyed on the vines and the drying facilities. Also, many raisins were turned away because they were below commercial quality levels. That is damaged, undeveloped or clumping.
The make-up of the crop is as follows (*according to statistics of Raisins SA)
1. During rainy weather, farmers are nervous about making goldens due to the varying sugar content of the grapes, which will cause problems in the color of the goldens after sulfuring. Therefore, more farmers used their grapes to make Thompsons in the place of golden in 2022
2. Some suppliers advised farmers against making golden during the lead-up to the 2022 crop (before the rain). They said the market for goldens was shrinking. This contributed to the smaller golden crop.
3. The rain that damaged the 2022 crop fell mainly along the orange river. That is where 82% of the SA crop is made. Olifants River (16% of SA crop) and Namibia (2% of raisins included in the SA crop figures ) had no rain.
Goldens – the crop of 2022
Producers are having some challenges with the goldens. They went out with an aggressive buying campaign to buy as many goldens as possible.
When the grape is sulfured, it tends to absorb water from the humid environment. Therefore, farmers were battling to dry their goldens to the required levels to deliver to processors. In some cases, they waited up to 8 weeks. Moreover, even then, it was not dry enough.
There were long delays in delivering goldens. The whole market was very short of goldens. Producers started offering to farmers to take the “wet goldens”, because they also needed them. The farmers were happy to sell to anyone who would take the golden in this wet condition.
Wet goldens cannot be processed and packed. They must be dried first.
SA now has winter, so the sun is no longer strong enough to dry it. Producers are now drying the goldens in special fruit drying tunnels to get the goldens dry as soon as possible. The drying rate is prolonged at 4mt per 12 hours over the drying tunnel. It is slow going.
Logistics from Cape town
Most of the suppliers are experiencing difficulties with logistics again. This time it is securing bookings on vessels. European destinations seem to be proceeding reasonably well, with a delay of approximately 10 days in Cape Town. The USA is slower, with e delay of roughly 17 days from packing to sailing. The vessels heading east are very slow.
Winter in South Africa
While the northern hemisphere moves into summer, SA is experiencing a cold winter. In the raisin-producing region, early morning frost is an everyday occurrence. That is excellent news for the vines. It puts them into a state of deep rest—Ready for a new 2023 season.