Wine-grape crop forecast to fall from record

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Johannesburg - South Africa’s harvest of grapes for wine production may fall 4.7 percent this year from a record harvest on 2013, a US government report showed.

Farmers will probably produce 1.42 million metric tons this season compared with 1.49 million tons harvested in 2013, according to data from the US Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service.

South Africa may bottle about 1.1 billion litres (2.42 million gallons) of wine in 2014, less than the 1.2 billion litres packaged a year earlier.

South Africa was the eighth-largest wine producer in 2012, accounting for 4 percent of global output, according to South African Wine Industry Information & Systems.

Since then, exports have been boosted by the depreciation of the rand, the worst- performing major currency against the dollar last year after it lost 19 percent, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. It has declined a further 4.1 percent this year.

“With a grape crop of 1.42 million litres, a continuing depreciation of the rand against major currencies, and the shift to bulk exports,” South Africa “will export about 500 million litres of wine in 2014,” the USDA said.

The country shipped a record 518 million litres in 2013, it said.

Last year’s bumper harvest allowed South Africa to fill the gap created by a poor European crop, Stellenbosch-based Wines of South Africa chief executive Siobhan Thompson said in a statement posted on its website January 14.

Total export volumes rose 26 percent to 525.7 million litres in 2013 when compared with a year earlier, while exports to the UK climbed 21 percent and those to Germany jumped 24 percent, according to Wines of South Africa.

Shipments to Russia gained 18 percent to 37.3 million litres, it said in January. - Bloomberg News

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