Wide-ranging measures by the fruit sector are being implemented to keep export shipments flowing
Shipping lines have strategically diverted some vessels from the port of Cape Town to Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape as measures to help relieve pressure on the struggling container terminal take effect.
Some of the larger vessels destined for the Far East will also no longer be calling in Cape Town, and smaller vessels, including ferries, are being utilised to transport these products to Port Louis in Mauritius, where they will join vessels to the East.
This is according to Sati, the South African Table Grape Grower organisation, which said it was aware of the challenges experienced at the Port of Cape Town over the past weeks and recognised the impact it was having on exports and arrivals.
“Together with Agbiz and Fruit South Africa members, we continue to actively engage with Transnet and the government role-players at the highest levels to expedite intervention which will mitigate impact of these events of the current grape season,” Sati stated.
“For table grapes to arrive in markets as close as possible to the originally planned dates, a number of measures have been taken.”
Exporters are transporting some of their fruit via road to Port Elizabeth, therefore avoiding Cape Town, and there are now specialised reefers leaving Cape Town on a weekly basis to the EU and the UK to further relieve pressure.
Sati said that South Africa remained committed to providing all its markets with quality table grapes.
“We urge stakeholders across the value chain to handle the arrival of grapes responsibly,” the industry body said. “South Africa remains committed to providing all our markets with quality table grapes.”
It is understood that performance levels have increased considerably at the Container Terminal in Cape Town since the end of last week, when the industry held crisis talks with the Transnet team.
It will however take some time to return to normal as the grape season enters its peak shipments, with pears and stonefruit also competing for space.