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Northern Cape Business 2022-23

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Since 2009, Northern Cape Business has established itself as the premier business and investment guide to the region. It is unique as a business and investment guide that focuses exclusively on the province. Specific investment opportunities are treated in detail in this journal, with a focus on geographic hotspots that are due to become the focus of sector focused infrastructure development.

OVERVIEW Grapes and wine

OVERVIEW Grapes and wine Global upheavals have created tough times for grape farmers. SECTOR INSIGHT The Orange River region packed 22.3-million cartons of grapes in 2022. The banks of the Orange River are a productive oasis for the cultivation of grapes. Credit: Dippenaar Choice Fruit Just as Covid-19 restrictions were coming to an end, Russia invaded Ukraine. As though bad weather, rising input costs and logjams at South African ports were not enough to try the patience of the farmers of the Orange River region, war in Europe put some of the income derived from exports in jeopardy. Nearly 2% of South African wine is exported to Russia. In 2021 the volume increased to about seven-million litres. With payment normally made through SWIFT, Russia’s expulsion from that system made transactions impossible. Despite all the headwinds, South African Table Grape Industry (SATI) announced in April 2022 that the season would probably be the largest export season ever. SATI reported a 5.5% increase on 2021 at 76.5-million cartons (4.5kg equivalent) with one region still to submit its final report. This figure was 17.2% up on the 2020 figure. The Orange River packed 22.3-million cartons. Exports of South African grapes and wine to China have been on an upward trend for several years. The imposition in 2020 of prohibitive tariffs on Australian imports by China as part of a damaging trade war helped to boost that trend. South Africa’s wine exports are still subject to tariffs on entering China, despite both countries being members of BRICS. Dippenaar Choice Fruit, an Orange River region grape producer which is headquarted in Kakamas, already exports to seven countries in South- East Asia and the Far East, including China and Singapore. An instructive feature of the company’s website is the Chinese language option. The company farms seedless grapes on eight farms along the Lower Orange River. Although the province has just 3% of South Africa’s vineyards, 18% of the nation’s white wine grapes are cultivated along the Orange River. Within the region, about 64% of grapes are white seedless and about 21% are red seedless (SATI). The word “audit” is normally associated with financial institutions or public bodies that must account for their expenses. But for the grape farmers and wine producers of the Northern Cape, meeting health standards is a serious business vital for access to lucrative export markets. For grape producers, the HACCP team is a vital element in operations. HACCP stands for Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points. Among the audits which these teams oversee are the BRC (British Retail Consortium) Version 8 Audit and SiZA, the Sustainability Initiative of South Africa. According to the website of Carpe Diem Estate, which includes raisins among its production activities, the group’s farming and packing activities are certified for GlobalGAP, Organic and Ethical. NORTHERN CAPE BUSINESS 2022/23 20

Wine The Karsten Group farms and exports seedless table grape varieties from facilities located along a 250km stretch of the Orange River. Credit: Karsten Group The region as a whole has 5 688ha of vines and the Orange River Producer Alliance represents its farmers. According to the SATI, the grape industry in the Northern Cape employs 1 215 people permanently, with a further 12 415 people finding seasonal work. Harvesting happens from early November to early February. Almost a third of South Africa’s table grape crop is produced in the fertile region. The South African table grape industry has been investing in hardier varietals which produce a better yield. A variety of seedless grapes dominate plantings, with Thompson Seedless, Prime, Sugraone, Grapaes and Crispy Flame Seedless among the most popular. The Special Economic Zone at Upington is planned as a means to assist the grape, raisin and wine traders of the Northern Cape to get their products to market more quickly. There are plans to add 40 000 tons of grapes for wine, juice and raisins to the Northern Cape’s capacity. A draft six-year plan has been developed for the Northern Cape Vineyard Development Scheme. Of the Sultana grapes grown in the Lower Orange River Region, 70% are used for vine-fruit products. There are 1 250 Sultana grape growers in the province, producing three Sultana-type grapes which rank among the best in the world: the Sultana Clone H5, a new hybrid called Merbein Seedless, which has proved resistant to splitting after rain, and the most popular type, the 143B. ONLINE RESOURCES Northern Cape Department of Agriculture, Environmental Affairs, Rural Development and Land Reform: Raisins South Africa: SA Wine Industry Information & Systems: South African Table Grape Industry: The Northern Cape’s Orange River wine region accounts for 25.6% of South Africa’s Colombard vines and 10% of Chenin blanc. The focus is on Colombard and Hanepoot grapes. Orange River Cellars (ORC) is the region’s biggest producer, sourcing its grapes as it does from 850 grape producers in the area known as the Green Kalahari. ORC has a winery at its head office in Upington and a further four at Keimoes, Groblershoop, Kakamas and Grootdrink. Orange River Concentrate Producers (part of the ORC group) produces about 7.5-million litres of white grape juice concentrate, a percentage of which is exported to Japan where the Itochu Corporation uses it in soft drinks and food. The Douglas Wine Cellar produces about 6 000 cases per year. Together with the Landzicht cellar (just over the border in the Free State), the Douglas Wine Cellars is a GWK company. The Douglas cellar crushes 7 000 tons of grapes every year and produces 5.6-million litres of wine. Hartswater Wine Cellar is a part of the region’s other big agricultural company, Senwes. Two wine brands (Overvaal and Elements) are produced in the Hartswater irrigation area north of Kimberley. Vinpro represents 2 500 South African wine grape producers, wineries and winerelated businesses. ■ 21 NORTHERN CAPE BUSINESS 2022/23

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