Peru's table grape exporters are working overtime to assure their Red Globe grapes will be available in China before the New Year celebrations begin in mid-January.
'All the Red Globe table grapes we harvest at the beginning of our season will be headed to China,' said Carlos Pastorini, the Asia/EU agent for two of Peru's most active fruit export firms - Beta and Alpine Fresh. 'Our growers expect to begin harvesting grapes in Week 47 or 48, weather permitting. This will be in plenty of time to make the Chinese New Year celebration in mid-January because transit time is usually 30 to 32 days. We expect to harvest and ship out fully one half of our entire Red Globe table grape harvest during the first month.'
Mr Pastorini predicted Peru's 2008/2009 table grape harvest at 38,000 tonnes, with about one third of the harvest heading to Asian markets. This is about the same production level as the previous season.
'We know some are predicting increased table grape production this year in Peru, but all the growers I know have been concentrating on improving the size of their grape bunches by investing a lot of time and money in pruning the grapevines,' explained Mr Pastorini. 'In previous years growers concentrated on increased volumes, but this season, with all the pruning, they are concentrating on getting better sizes. The market is certainly demanding better sizes, and the prices will be determined by the size of the table grapes.'
Mr Pastorini's prediction about this year's grape harvest in Peru is not shared entirely by fruit analyst Isabel Quiroz, owner of iQonsulting, a Santiago-based fruit analysis and service provider.
'Peru's table grape export deal is very young,' said Ms Quiroz. 'About 55 per cent of their grapevines are now producing, but the other 45 per cent are in the process of maturing or just coming into production. Peru's grape production is expected to really take off in the next five years because of recent large plantings and because the US market has opened to Peru. The new grapevines are not just Red Globes headed for Asia, but also include US-oriented plantations of Thompsons and Superiors.'
'Asia received 12,800 tonnes of Peruvian grapes last season, of 38,000 tonnes produced,' continued Ms Quiroz. 'And we believe Asian-bound table grape exports will increase to at least 14,000 tonnes this 2008/2009 season. And, of course, they will primarily be Red Globes.'
Peru also exports mangoes and citrus fruit to China, although the volumes of both fruit varieties are not significant.