The Italian marketing of grapes, which starts between June and July and continues until the end of December, reaches the moment of its high point, in terms of sales and consumption, in September, yet still maintaining enhanced levels throughout the month of November. According to Istat (the National Institute of Statistics) Italy destines 450,000 to 500,000 tons of grapes every year for export, matching over a third of the internal production. Therefore, grapes are a product which can be named on the list of “export oriented”, like apples and kiwis, with export flows that reached peaks of over 700,000 tons at the beginning of the year 2000. The production of table grapes in recent years has remained fairly stable.
Italy maintains a leadership in the European productive setting, followed by Spain and Greece. Around 70% of the production is concentrated in Apulia, and another 25% in Sicily. Other productive regions hold a certain role of relief, even if they are clearly inferior compared with Apulian and Sicilian districts: Latium and Basilicata, with a production of around 20,000 tons, followed by Sardinia with just more than 10,000 tons. In terms of spaces invested, grapes occupy an expanse of more than 70,000 hectares in Italy. The German market remains the principal commercial outlet, with about a fourth of all exports. Other important importers of Italian table grape are Poland and France, which receives around 10-15%% of Italian exportations, Spain (5%), Switzerland (5%), Czech Republic (5%), United Kingdom (4%) and Russia (4%). The share of the two principle foreign markets together accounts for 38% of the overall volume of exports, while the remaining 62% is distributed among over 60 different countries, many of which are outside the European Union.
Apulia has always been appreciated for its excellent productive capacity, inasmuch as it has always responded to the demand of distribution, with respect to the reference parameters of quality, such as colour, Brix degrees, the calibre of the grape and the size of the bunches. The strongpoint of Apulian production is quality and in this sense, the efforts that local entrepreneurs make in continually seeking to strike a balance between the intensive demand for quality and the high cost of production, should be recognised. But there’s more: resourcefulness and varietal innovation are characteristic of Apulia today, with entrepreneurs, who have developed and presented research and innovation projects for new varieties, together with local or international experimental organizations. A good example is the increase in the area given over to the cultivation of seedless grapes, which currently accounts for about 10% of the total area given over to growing table grapes in the region (about 4,500 hectares).