November 28, 2023

Global Table Grape Industry Meets in Western Cape for 10th International Symposium

The 10th International Table Grape Symposium, a pivotal event for the global table grape community, commenced on 26 November, at the Lord Charles Hotel in Somerset West. The symposium, themed ‘Where Science Meets Industry,’ is set to conclude on 1 December 2023.

Ilse Trautmann, the Western Cape’s Deputy Director-General of Provincial Agriculture and a renowned table grape researcher, inaugurated the event. The symposium has attracted over five hundred delegates, both in-person and virtually, to engage in presentations and discussions that underscore the vital intersection of scientific innovation and industry practices.

Schalk Reynolds, representing the South African Society of Oenology and Viticulture, emphasized in his opening address the significant impact of climate change on the industry. “Climate change will be one of the big things going forward,” he stated, highlighting the urgency of adapting agricultural practices to evolving environmental conditions.

Trautmann, who is also scheduled to represent the Western Cape at COP-28 in Dubai, shared insights into the province’s role in global climate mitigation efforts. The Western Cape, known for its Mediterranean climate, will be signing a cooperation agreement with other Mediterranean regions to address climate change challenges.

Providing a broader perspective on South Africa’s fruit industry, Trautmann revealed that 35% of the country’s exports are fresh fruit, with 65% of its fruit production being exported. Over 55% of these exports originate from the Western Cape. South Africa stands as the fourth largest table grape exporter globally, having shipped 63 million 4.5kg cartons last year, with two-thirds destined for the European Union. The upcoming season forecasts an increase to 73 million cartons.

However, Trautmann acknowledged the challenges faced by the industry, particularly in terms of port capacity, which has not kept pace with the growth of the fruit sector. She underscored the Western Cape government’s commitment to job creation through the ‘Growth for Jobs – G4J’ initiative. “In the Cape, 430,000 people are employed in agriculture. We aim to add 23,000 jobs for every 5% increase in exports. That’s our goal in the Western Cape and South Africa,” she stated.

The symposium is expected to be a melting pot of ideas, strategies, and collaborations, setting the stage for a future where science and industry work hand in hand to navigate the challenges and opportunities in the table grape sector.