Fresh Plaza recently spoke with Dirk Winkelmann, President of Vanguard Direct, about the 2022-2023 grape season. Notably, Peru has surpassed Chile as the leading exporter of grapes in South America. Here’s a glimpse of what was discussed.
The Peruvian grape season is wrapping up. “Harvest at our farms in the Ica area was completed about three weeks ago,” says Dirk Winkelmann with Vanguard International. While the production period is complete, the marketing season will continue for another few months. “We have product continuing to arrive to North America and Asia over the following weeks,” he added.
Total production was just over 70 million cartons this season. “The forecast was for 73 million cartons to be harvested, so we are coming in slightly below that number.” However, compared to last year, Peru is seeing a 9 to 10 percent increase in production. The reduction from initial estimates is mainly caused by loss of fruit due to weather and strikes. The strikes had a negative impact on Peru’s agribusiness sector. “It created a domino effect in every sector of the industry,” said Winkelmann. “From materials, to labor, applications, logistics, loading schedules, and transit times to markets. When the strikes in Peru hit, the northern Piura region had essentially completed harvest and Ica ended up taking the brunt of the impacts.”
Production at Vanguard Peru’s own farms aligns with the countrywide increase. “We are seeing an increase in production of 12 to 13 percent over last year, which is in line with our expectations. Our recent plantings have come into full maturity, which resulted in a strong growing season.” The 2022-2023 season marks a big milestone for the Peruvian table grape industry as the country overtook Chile as top grape exporter in South America for the first time. “Peru has been actively planting new varieties and that’s the country’s main differentiator,” said Winkelmann. “Newer plantings in Peru are coming into full maturity while Chilean volume of traditional varieties is dropping, and Chile has been slower for various reasons in the plantings of new varieties. In Chile, all new varieties must enrol in a mandatory quarantine program. This makes new IP variety growth a longer hurdle compared to the growing region of Peru.”
Taking a closer look at Peru’s grape portfolio, new varieties make up about 68 percent of total production. The country has always had the ability to plant new varieties and reach production maturity quicker than most other countries and has also been more active in planting new varieties. “Overall, Peru is taking the lead in production total of new varieties,” said Winkelmann. He is seeing a strong movement towards green grapes, followed by red and then black. The main green varieties include Ivory™, Sweet Globe™, and AUTUMNCRISP®, while Allison™, Sweet Celebration™, and Jack’s Salute™ are the biggest red grape varieties. For black grapes the leading varieties are Sweet Favors™ and MIDNIGHT BEAUTY®.
Vanguard Peru’s table grapes are shipped around the globe. “We have established a strong position in North America with a large percentage of grapes delivered into the US, Canada, and Mexico as well as into Asia, primarily into China, Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam,” said Winkelmann. In addition, the company has a similar comfortable and steady customer program with Latin America and the UK. “We are expanding our footprint into Europe and during the upcoming post-harvest season, we will focus on growing our program in the European continent. We are also excited about the new protocol which will allow us to ship into Japan next season. Our commitment to and success with new varieties greatly aids our competitive advantage as an industry leader.”
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