PROBLEMS IN MARKETING TABLE GRAPES IN FRANCE
The production of table grapes in France has not increased much in the past ten or fiteen years. However, the production of all fruits has increased considerably. For table grapes competition comes from late peaches, apples, pears and fruits from tropical countries (bananas and citrus fruits). The expansion in the production of all fruits is a matter for concern, because fresh fruit consumption does not expand with it.
The production increase of table grapes is exceeding the consumption increase by 4% each year in Europe as a whole. The main reason is that countries like Italy, Spain, Greece and Bulgaria have extended their table grape acreage and increased their production. Most of the export markets are becoming oversupplied.
This unfavourable economic climate emphasizes the weaknesses of table grape production in France. It would help the French growers very much to have the whole range of cultivars (early, late, black, white, etc.) which at present they lack. The opportunities to renew or to complete the range of cultivars are very limited. The main reason is the climate in France, where table grapes are grown at the northern limit of their production area in Europe. However, it seems necessary to modify the proportions of cultivars by giving a more important share to black ones. As for new cultivars a white musky one should be grown and marketed on a large scale.
The quality of table grapes in France is not satisfactory. Too often grapes are picked too early in order to profit from higher prices. This premature picking is resulting in an unsatisfactory flavour and a poor colour.
Improving quality means extra costs for growers. Because of the low general average prices and of the slight difference between the prices of low and high qualities, there is no incentive for growers to produce grapes of a better quality.
A genuine organization of growers might help to control the supply of table grapes, but the percentage of organized growers happens to be even lower in the case of table grapes than in the case of other fruits.