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South African table grape industry - strategies to tackle Port of Cape Town challenges

In a statement the South African Table Grape Industry body (SATI) said it is aware of the challenges experienced at the Port of Cape Town over the past weeks and realises the impact this is having on exports and arrivals.

"Together with Agbiz and Fruit South Africa members, we continue to actively engage with Transnet and government role-players at the highest levels to expedite intervention which will mitigate impact of these events of the current grape season. Following an urgent request to senior role-players at Transnet and relevant government departments, the fruit industry held a meeting with Michelle Philips, Transnet Acting Chief Executive, and numerous senior members of Transnet teams on 11 January 2023," said Jacques Ferreira, SATI's
Commercial Industry Affairs Manager.

Key outcomes as follows:
1. The meeting discussed immediate short-term actions aimed at improving efficiency in the Cape Town Container Terminal (CTCT) and Multipurpose Terminal (MPT).

2. The port agreed to interact with industry on a 24-hour basis, to review productivity and implement urgent remedial actions if required. The frequency of these meetings will facilitate a quick turnaround should intervention be required.

3. Industry has requested that major shipping lines and prominent logistics role-players are invited to the meetings, to ensure that they can provide input and form part of solutions where applicable.

For table grapes to arrive in markets as close as possible to the originally planned dates, the following strategies are being implemented:

Shipping lines have strategically diverted some vessels from Cape Town to Port Elizabeth (PE). These vessels will now call in PE instead of Cape Town, thereby reducing pressure on the Port of Cape Town.

The following two vessels have been confirmed as calling in PE instead of Cape Town:
o The Santa Isabel (planned berth 17 January 2024)
o The MSC Soraya (planned berth 28 January 2024)
o Details of the Kalahari Express are to be confirmed.

Exporters are transporting some product via road (truck) to PE port instead of directing it to the Port of Cape Town, to facilitate product reaching destination markets earlier. Shipping lines are sailing weekly conventional vessels to the EU and UK, to relieve pressure at the Cape Town Container Terminal.

Some of the larger vessels destined for the Far East will no longer be calling in Cape Town, and smaller vessels being utilised to transport this product, including ferries, are sailing to Port Louis in Mauritius.

"To date scheduling to Europe has been challenging. Industry has implemented the above-listed strategies to address scheduling challenges and facilitate product reaching markets in a staggered fashion, according to programme timelines. We urge stakeholders across the value chain to handle the arrival of grapes responsibly.
South Africa remains committed to providing all our markets with quality table grapes," concludes Ferreira.

For more information:
Jacques Ferreira
Tel: +27 72 641 7881
Email: [email protected]

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