Market Update For Table Grapes
Week of January 17 – January 23
It’s been an unprecedented start to the imported table grape season. Logistical challenges and a Covid related spike in demand has put importers behind the 8 ball. The spot market for all varieties have hit all time January highs, and that’s not necessarily a good thing. With significant volumes from both Chile and Peru projected for February and March, marketers will have to convince skeptical retailers that they can support promotional activity. That responsibility lies on importers and marketers who only need to look at history to see how unsustainable these types of hyped spot markets are. That being said, this coming week may actually be one of the lightest arrival weeks of the season so far. It will likely add more fuel to an already ignited spot market. Unfortunately, we really won’t see any major relief until the middle of February. However, once volumes hit a market with average retails at or above $3.99 per lb., it will only be a matter of time before pricing takes a precipitous dive.
We should be prepared for another very light week of red seedless arrivals from both Peru and Chile. Spot market demand will remain very strong through the end of the month. Importers continue to come up significantly short, as delayed ocean containers and limited bulk vessels from Chile have impacted January volumes. Some retailers are promoting red seedless this week. Marketers had projected strong volumes for this time period, only to be completely side swiped by logistics. With a burn me once mentality, it will be a challenge to convince retailers to promote red seedless in February. Volumes are coming from both Peru and Chile, and if marketers plan for logistical delays and manage timing better, promotions can be supported. The spot market is historically high with premium varieties ranging from $36-$40. Most retailers who are not on contracted programs are paying from $32-$34. Pre-season contracted programs currently range from $24-$26. However, many are only being covered up to 50% as marketers are feeling the pressure form their growers to strike on the spot market. Look for pricing to hold at these levels through the end of January. We should see FOB’s start adjusting lower into February with promotional volume available by the middle of the month.
Without sounding redundant, expect another like week of arrivals from Peru and Chile with strong demand. Importers will continue to come-up short and fall down on programmed commitments. Better volumes are on the way, but not enough to support promotional activity in January. Retailers will be looking to promote table grapes in February, but may have to stick with only red seedless and keep green seedless prices higher. Overall quality and condition on Peruvian fruit is a bit inconsistent, as containers are now taking almost 30 days of transit time to the east coast. Pricing ranges from $36-$40 for premium Sweet Globes and Superiors, and as high as $46 for Peruvian Autumn Crisp. These prices are just not sustainable, but unfortunately will hold through the end of the month. Programed pricing ranges from $24-$26, and importers are feeling the pressure to limit the amount for program fruit they ship. This is just a worst-case scenario for the table grape industry, but we should see a correction by the middle of February and then into March.
The market has been empty over the past few weeks, but overall demand has also been somewhat limited because retailers have been focusing on red and green seedless. Volumes of Peruvian black seedless are on water, and there will be some limited promotional opportunities. Pricing ranges from $32-$36 on Midnights and Sweet Sapphire, with the expectation of seeing more competitive FOB’s by the middle of February. Look for the spot market to adjust lower by the second week of February, ranging from $26-$28.