Market Update For Table Grapes
Week of January 27 – February 2
Overall table grape supplies have been out of balance since the first of January as the industry has received ample supplies of Peruvian & Chilean green seedless, while overall arrivals of imported red seedless have remained fairly limited. With continued promotional activity in weekly circulars, overall demand has remained strong on both colors, but many importers have struggled to cover their red seedless commitments. Relief is on the horizon as increased volumes of Peruvian fruit are finally getting on water and better Chilean volumes are set to arrive in February. It’s important to keep in mind that overall production throughout the growing regions of Chile are expected to be down 8%-10% due to water table and drought issues. Similarly, sizing is expected to be significantly affected with the majority of arrivals peaking on medium/large and large code fruit. In the short term, expectations are to see market conditions remain at current levels, although we could see the current elevated spot market pricing on red seedless settle back to normal levels. Don’t be surprised to see a reverse trend in February as arrivals of premium green seedless will be limited and more volume of proprietary red seedless enter the market.
Arrivals of Peruvian and Chilean red seedless have been very tight for more than 10 days, propping up spot market pricing and forcing some importers to fall down on their pre-programmed commitments. Typically, during this time of year, we would see better shipments of Sweet Celebrations arriving from the Southern growing region of Ica, Peru. Those volumes have been delayed by more than 3 weeks as growers continue to wait for proper sugar development. To compound the current situation, over the last 5 years, many growers in the north of Chile have pulled hundreds of acres of poor performing Flame Seedless. With such a short supply, spot market pricing has been very strong but we could see that trend to reverse over the next two weeks as better volumes of red from both Peru and Chile will be entering the US market. Spot pricing on good quality Flames and Crimsons currently ranges from $24-26 on medium/large, $26-$28 on large and $28-$30 on x-large. Limited supplies of proprietary varieties like Krissy and Sweet Celebration are selling from $28-$34 with the mostly market at $32 for x-large fruit. Even with more volumes on the way, the pipeline is pretty empty and it will still take a week or two to see things settle back to better levels.
Although there are excellent supplies of both Chilean and Peruvian green seedless in the market, inventories are beginning to build as high spot market pricing has slowed overall movement since the first of January. We are now seeing a true split market between aged inventory, weak arrivals and premium lots. QC inspection teams are having to wade through mid-range and suspect quality lots to select fruit that will meet retail specification. Importers are offering aggressive pricing on fruit that needs to be moved through the system quickly. As we move into the middle of February, we will likely see reduced volumes from both Chile and Peru. Many growers in the central region of Chile have reduced overall acreage of Superiors and the major volumes of Peruvian green seedless have already entered the market. Current pricing ranges widely with average quality fruit trading from $22-$26 and premium fruit from $26-$28 on large, $28-$30 on x-large and $30-$32 on jumbo. Look for FOB pricing on premium lots to hold through the end of January and then likely tick higher as overall availability looks to be lower in February.
Overall availability on imported black seedless remains hit and miss. Peruvian Autumn Royal, Summer Royal and Midnights are in short supply, while decent volumes of Sapphires continue to arrive. Overall volumes will be unchanged through the balance of the month with only a handful of importers with inventories on-hand. Pricing on Peruvian black seedless currently ranges from $28-$32 with size and variety being the determining factors. We will continue to see Peruvian Sweet Sapphires available weekly, with FOB’s ranging from $28-$30. We can expect to see better volumes of black seedless from Chile enter the market in February, with promotional volumes expected by the first of March.