Spanish table grapes: New varieties, markets central to future success

Red and white grapes

With Spain's table grape season having ended in November, the industry has noted the importance of entering into new markets and working on varietal reconversion.

Its 2019 season followed normal expectations and saw a slight dip in production. But new varieties and work to enter into new global markets are greatly boosting future prospects.

The country's growers' and exporters' association, APOEXPA, highlighted that China and Vietnam opened their doors to Spanish grapes this year. The industry sent its first shipments to the two countries in September and October, respectively.
  
"Opening new destination markets is important because it will allow for future growth," president of APOEXPA Joaquín Gómez said. Gómez also told us about Spain's plans to enter into Thailand's market. Currently, the two countries are in the planning stages. And Thailand isn't the only new country on Spain's list of potential new markets.

"We are talking with various markets that, in reality, are pretty small, but still make a difference. Entering into every market we can is important," he added.

For now, the main destinations for Spanish grapes continue to be in the European market. Namely, the UK and Germany receive the highest volumes.

According to Gómez, Spanish grape production was 7% less than anticipated. Despite lower production, the season developed normally and came out successful. The industry attributes this to new varietal reconversions and innovation, said Gómez.

While we were reminded that it's still very early to know anything for certain about the 2020 season, Gómez provided us with some insight.

"If everything goes well, we're expecting a 15% increase in harvest from last year," explained Gómez.

Varietal reconversion and research into new varieties have been central to the success of Spain's grape industry. Particularly in the region of Murcia - the leader in grape breeding - programs have been underway to improve the genetics of grapes for a higher quality product.

"We have our own varieties of seedless grapes," said Gómez. He also emphasized that Spain sets an example for other parts of the world when it comes to innovating new varieties.
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