During the middle of February and early March we have seen various heavy rainfalls, in the raisin-regions of South Africa, which caused serious delay, specially for the Ramadan-(Golden) buyers.
It was not only the undesirable rain but it came together with a very high percentage of humidity, causing a longer period of drying, specially for the golden variety, which are being dried on trays in the shade, this takes normally 3 to 4 weeks depending on medium or Jumbo size. Under normal circumstances most farmers use the trays twice in one season.
For this method of drying, windy, warm and dry air are the perfect conditions and those were lacking for some time.
Altogether it caused a delay of 2/3 weeks and in an ongoing shorter period of time towards Ramadan. Logically it will get more and more difficult to deliver in time into this particular market.
Although South Africa is growing and producing a fantastic raisin for which buyers are still prepared to pay a premium, we need to be aware of developments worldwide.
High prices are attracting other producers, in other countries and all of a sudden new competition is born.
So far it is/was Chile which has more or less comparable qualities but since they can start exporting only during March/April they are no serious competition for the first months.
In our last bulletin we have stated again that South African raisins have an extraordinary position because of their high quality (bigger sizes) but we must be aware of competition.
The moment that they introduce another type of grape and also would have the ability to produce larger than the ones they distribute now, the industry-buyers and dealers, will opt for the cheaper ones.
Last year the South African market could afford lower prices because of the weak Rand. This advantage is now over.