Market Update For Table Grapes
Week of October 25 – October 31
For the next two months, the table grape industry will have its eyes on the upcoming crop from South America and how long to stay with late-season California fruit. South American growers from Chile, Peru and Brazil will rely heavily on the US market this year, because ocean freight to Asia and Europe present potential risks of extended delays on water. Transit times from Lima to China can run between 25-35 days, but currently, we are seeing arrivals almost double in some cases. With an average of only 15 days from both Chile and Peru to the east coast of the United States, we are likely to see growers take the path with less risk. Still, logistical challenges will impact how importers are able to service their customer base. There will be a shortage of local trucks on both coasts, needed to transfer bulk shipments from the port to cold storages. We can also expect a shortage of over the road trucks on the east coast, making on-time deliveries for fresh product a roll of the dice. It looks as if there will be plenty of fruit to sell this winter, but the companies who are prepared to take on the logistical challenges will be the ones who end up with the best results.
Over the past two weeks we have seen spot market pricing for red seedless tick higher, and we will likely see that trend continue through the balance of the season. Last year was an anomaly due to the pandemic, and storage numbers were a bit skewed. However, the industry is currently down almost 2.5 million boxes compared to this time in 2019. This points to a much higher spot market in late November and into December. Overall Crimson volumes coming from northern Peru are also down, as many growers have pulled them out to plant proprietary varieties. We won’t see the first Chilean vessel arrive to the east coast until right before Christmas. We shouldn’t expect any relief in the market until the first week of January. Currently, Scarlet Royals are trading from $16.95-$18.95 with Sweet Celebrations and Allison trading from $18.95-$20.95. For now, marketers seem content at these levels. With a fair amount of rain expected this week, we could see pricing jump once growers get a full picture of the remaining crop.
For months, we have heard reports about the questionable quality and condition off this year’s late season Autumn King crop, and the potential for light supplies in December. However, the most recent USDA Cold Storage Report indicates there are almost 800K more Autumn Kings put away compared to this time last year. With Brazilian growers and some Peruvian growers already sending early green grapes to the east coast, transitioning to imports should be seamless. Depending on quality, we may see retailers east of the Mississippi look to take advantage of cheaper freight rates, and make the switch early in December. Currently, there are very good supplies of California proprietary green grapes as well as Autumn Kings available. Pricing ranges from $18.95-$22.95 on Autumn Kings and Autumn Crisp fetching a premium as high as $32.95. In the short term, pricing should remain at these levels and begin to adjust higher week by week.
Marketers have been looking for any support on black seedless, as overall retail demand for has been limited. There are very good supplies of both Autumn Royal and Sweet Sapphire with aggressive pricing. Autumn Royal pricing ranges from $16.95-$18.95. Typically, the best black seedless are exported to Asia, but ocean freight delays and high costs have forced more volume back into the domestic market.