Peru Filling Gap in Grape Demand

Extreme weather in California this year has had a negative impact on the grape crop, forcing buyers to shift their attention to growing regions in South America, affecting stocks left for that market.

“California, a major grape-producing region, is potentially facing a staggering 50% loss in total crop yield,” Vanguard International said in a recent update. “This significant reduction is attributed to a combination of factors, including unseasonably hot weather, wildfires, and conditions experienced from Tropical Storm Hillary.”

The report said Northern Peru may have lost as much as 25% of its crop – some 9 million cartons — due to excessive rain and flooding that caused mildew issues. Fresh Plaza put losses as high as 30%.

In Chile, by contrast, the crop seems to have survived this year’s weather so far, but the report cautions the situation still needs monitoring.

The result is that the world grape market is undergoing significant shifts, and with the increasing frequency of the El Niño and La Niña weather patterns, both growers and customers will likely face further unpredictability.

Hurricane Hilary Looms Large

Fresh Fruit Portal reported (Oct. 24) the effects of Hurricane Hilary on California’s production has pushed up pricing for California grapes and allowed the relative affordability of Peruvian grapes an attractive alternative. Peru’s production this year topped Chile’s in April by 7%, making Peru the continent’s top producer.

Fifteen percent of Peru’s grape exports are going to Colombia and 15% to Mexico.

Fresh Plaza reported demand from the Latin American and U.S. markets for Peruvian grapes is growing, adding to pressure from traditional markets in Asia and Europe. Alejandro Carvajal, general director of Fegum Sac, told Fresh Plaza that flooding in Peru was largely localized.

Carvajal credited careful planning for growers’ ability to salvage the bulk of the crop, saying many fields escaped flooding and those that had minor flooding were speedily drained.

“We have already started harvesting, from seed grapes to Red Globe. We are seeing greater demand from the U.S. market,” Carvajal told Fresh Plaza.