How Cape fruit producers have been getting around the failure of the Port of Cape Town

Cape farmers have been increasingly pushing their produce out through Port Elizabeth and Walvisbaai, to avoid the extreme congestion





Feb 7, 2024

How Cape fruit producers have been getting around the failure of the Port of Cape Town

Amidst delays plaguing the Cape Town Port, the South African Table Grape Industry (Sati) and associated stakeholders have devised strategies to circumvent logistical hurdles during the peak packing and export period.

Notably, more than 2.8 million cartons of table grapes, constituting nearly 10% of total grape volumes exported thus far, were dispatched via conventional vessels by Week 04. This figure represents a significant surge compared to the entirety of the previous season, nearly tripling the volume.

To mitigate delays, shipping lines have adopted divergent strategies, opting to bypass Cape Town and dock at alternative ports such as Port Elizabeth (PE), Durban, and Walvis Bay. Approximately 5,000 containers of various goods, not limited to grapes, have been redirected away from Cape Town, accounting for roughly 3-4 days of reduced traffic at the Cape Town Container Terminal (CTCT).

Moreover, an additional 750 containers, equivalent to 2.7 million cartons of table grapes, have been rerouted from Cape Town, primarily departing from PE. This shift has alleviated strain on Cape Town Port, further supplemented by increased fruit volumes transported via specialized reefer vessels, circumventing the need for CTCT utilization, as per Sati reports.

National Export Figures

Inspections of 47.2 million export-bound cartons have been conducted up to Week 04, marking a 22% increase from the previous year. However, actual exports of 30 million cartons align closely with the previous season's figures. Notably, a substantial difference of 17.3 million cartons exists between inspected and exported volumes.

Regional Production Updates

The Northern Region is anticipated to conclude packing by February 2, 2024, reaching the estimated crop yield of 5.8 million cartons. Yet, logistical bottlenecks on subsequent vessels pose quality challenges.

In the Orange River Region, most packing activities have concluded, surpassing crop estimates, with an expected final inspection volume of approximately 23.9 million cartons.

Approximately 80% of producers in the Olifants River Region anticipate completing packing within four weeks, nearing the estimated 3.4 million cartons.

The Berg River Region anticipates a harvest close to the projected 19.1 million cartons, with a bottleneck expected due to intense packing in the coming weeks.

Despite minimal farm damage from wildfires, the Hex River Region anticipates a harvest of about 23.5 million cartons, with no significant impact on yield or quality expected.

more articles by this author