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Top rate Namibian grape season expected

NAMIBIA’S first grapes of this season, harvested from Solar Grapes for Dutch company HillFresh, have already been at sea for two weeks.

The grapes produced at Aussenkehr valley are shipped to the port of Rotterdam in the Netherlands through the port of Lüderitz.

“The season began early again, which is good news in the current market,” Jan-Willem Lagendijk account manager import at HillFresh International told FreshPlaza, the portal for the fresh produce industry.

FreshPlaza says the Dutch company expects this consignment in week 48.

According to Lagendijk, Solar is uniquely located at the end of the Aussenkehr valley. It is slightly warmer there, and the fruit ripens earlier. So, this Namibian company usually starts about 10 days earlier than other producers.

“I recently visited Solar Grapes, and they are expecting a harvest of no less than 750 000 boxes. That will increase to a million boxes over the next two years. We’ll continue loading from Namibia until week 51 and then switch to South Africa.

“Growers there, especially in the early region in Groblersdal, Limpopo, are experiencing delays due to last week’s hail. Sales, thus, seem guaranteed, at least until Christmas,” Lagendijk said.

According to FreshPlaza, HillFresh recently extended its exclusive agreement with Solar Grapes for another five years, minimum. HillFresh can, therefore, keep coordinating all of Solar Grapes’ marketing and sales of its 200 hectares of grapes.

“New plantings and varieties are driving this wonderful project’s growth. They use solar panels to generate all the power they need. Our partner’s vision means quality and sustainability have gone hand in hand there for years,” explains Lagendijk.

“Market prices for Brazilian grapes are unusually high at present. The Brazilian export season started very apprehensively and also ended quickly. According to Lagendijk, that was partly because of a strong local market.

“Peru has, so far, loaded 40% less to Europe and is largely focused on exports to the United States. The dollar-euro exchange rate plays a big role there. There are still some late Italian grapes on the market, but most retailers have switched to overseas grapes.

“This isn’t an easy market for growers. Costs have risen sharply on all fronts, and freight rates remain very high,” he continued.

“That and the already mentioned dollar exchange rate are hugely challenging. So, we’re happy that our partner in Namibia has good prospects.

“As always, we’ll do our utmost to unburden and support our retail customers with volume and excellent quality. We’re confident about the upcoming season,” Lagendijk said.

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