Market Update For Table Grapes
Week of February 22 – February 28
Importers continue to move through decent volumes of fruit and seem to be selling from empty coolers as strong programed business and aggressive retails have had the industry on cruise control. Unfortunately, we can expect importers to hold off on any long-term forward planning as more negative reports from Chile continue to funnel in. Growers initially reported that the red seedless crop was fairly unaffected by the recent rain, but humid weather conditions have brought on botrytis and mildew. Rough estimates indicate up to a 70% loss of green seedless and 30% of red seedless. We are likely to see significant condition issues on arrival with a fair amount of fruit requiring repack on the east and west coasts. Most growers in Peru are beginning to wind down on harvests for the season, and we will see the majority of fruit still hanging put onto water over the next two weeks. We can expect good arrivals through the second and third week of March. In the coming weeks, spot market pricing on red, green and black seedless are expected to tick higher as availability contracts. The industry will face challenges in the second half of the season as we navigate through a wide range of quality and market pricing.
For the next two weeks, the industry is expected to receive good volumes of Sweet Celebration and Jack Salute from Peru. The majority of this fruit is sizing on x-large and jumbo, and importers will be looking for a premium for these proprietary varieties. On the other hand, the market has been fairly short on value red seedless with many importers using large code Flames, Perlons and Arra 29 to cover programmed business. Spot market pricing on conventional varieties currently ranges from $20 on medium/large, $22-24 on large and $24-$26 on x-large with the mostly market at $24. Proprietary varieties are trading at mostly $26 on x-large and $28 on jumbo with variety being the determining factor. We should see good arrivals of imported red seedless over the next 2 weeks with pre-rain fruit already on water and post-rain fruit heading to the US market. The late season Crimson crop is now looking as if it will come up short in April as Chilean growers are finding more damage on hanging fruit.
Since the beginning of the month, we’ve seen strong movement on imported green seedless. Consumer support has also been excellent as both Chilean and Peruvian supplies have arrived with excellent quality and condition. Retailers have kept store level pricing competitive, which has kept product moving through the system quickly. As we head towards the end of the month, expectations are for merchandisers to raise retails in anticipation of significantly reduced arrivals of Chilean fruit to the US market. Like red seedless, value green seedless have been hard to source with many importers holding fruit for their pre-committed program business. Varieties like Thompson, Sugraone and Ivory are trading from $22-$24 on medium/large, $24-$26 on large and $26-$28 on x-large. Sweet Globes are fetching from $28-$32 and Autumn Crisp are now trading at $36 and higher for jumbo fruit. Growers from Brazil are planning on sending as much fruit as possible to the US market in hopes of catching a high spot market in April. Brazil has had a very good run this year with strong exports to the US in November and December, and now seemingly a repeat performance in late March and April.
Good volumes of pre-rain Chilean unknown black seedless are on water and expected to arrive to the east coast over the next two weeks. Peruvian growers are starting to wrap up for the season and will begin making their last passes on Midnights and Sweet Sapphire. Pricing on black seedless has ranged all season from $26-$30 with size and variety being the determining factors. With botrytis and mildew issues in the field, the overall health of late season Chilean Autumn Royal crop is in question. It’s unclear how growers will make-out, but overall volumes are expected to be considerably lower than anticipated.
We have seen steady volumes of organics from Peru since the middle of December. Volumes from the southern region of Ica, Peru will take the industry through March and early April. We will see more proprietary varieties like Autumn Crisp, Jacks Salute and Sweet Sapphire. This will be the first year that volumes of organics from Peru have been able to keep the market supplied into April. Pricing is mostly programmed, but retails still need to hover close to $3.99/lb. to keep fruit moving through the system.