Market Update For Table Grapes
Week of January 25 – January 31
Although imported table grape demand seems strong to kick off the season, it’s important to keep in mind that significant volumes of east coast arrivals have been transferred to the west, to fill the void created by west coast port delays. The ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach continue to be gridlocked as COVID-19 and labor regulations are hindering the timely unloading of container vessels. This short-term window has allowed importers on the east to stay very current on inventory, keeping the spot market for premium fruit stable. Once the west coast can catch up with inbound bulk and container shipments, volumes will come-on all at once and we could see a quick drop in the west coast pricing. With supply and demand currently in balance, the spot market and programmed business are trading at fairly similar levels. One deficiency in the current landscape is the overall availability of value red and green seedless. Over the past several years, growers in Chile and Peru have pulled out vineyards of conventional grapes in favor of higher yielding proprietary varieties. Even with a significant reduction in food service business, we’ve seen pressure and good demand for value red and green since the beginning of the season. That being said, the markets have found equilibrium, and we expect that to continue through the balance of the month. Overall arrivals from both Chile and Peru are expected to be moderate for the next 7-10 day. By the first full week of February look for a flush of fruit from both regions, providing promotional opportunities on all table grape varieties.
With an uptick in imported proprietary varieties, Flame Seedless have fallen out of favor by many in the business, but they still have a place in this market. With very limited supplies of value fruit available, demand for Flames is still a factor for both food service and some retailers. Peruvian and Chilean arrivals of red seedless for this time period are higher in comparison to previous seasons. As we head to February, that trend looks to continue with significant shipments of Peruvian Sweet Celebration, Jack Salute and Chilean Arra 29’s and Flame Seedless on water. Pricing on conventional varieties currently ranges from $18-$20 on medium/large, $20 on large and $22-$24 on x-large with the mostly market at $22. Proprietary varieties are ranging from $24-$26 on x-large and $26-$28 on jumbo. Expectations are for spot market pricing to remain at current levels through the end of the month, and adjust down slightly as more fruit enters the market in February.
As expected, arrivals of imported green seedless from Peru were light last week as a result of the pre-Christmas labor strike . With Chilean arrivals just getting going, availability of value added large and medium large conventional varieties were in short supply. Importers were also shuffling off their best quality fruit to the west coast, filling the void left by significant port delays. The industry is also cleaning up the last lots of Brazilian Arra 15’s with arrivals expected to be finished by the end of the month. Even with strong programs in place and increased demand from the west, spot market pricing has remained fairly unchanged over the past few weeks, although we have seen FOB’s firm just a bit on premium jumbo fruit. The main verities available are Superior, Sweet Globe and Sugar Crisp from Peru and Thompsons and Prime from Chile. Pricing on good quality green seedless currently ranges from $22 on medium/large, $22-$24 on large, $24-$26 on x-large and $26-$28 on jumbo. Some importers are still getting $30 plus on proprietary premium greens. Overall quality and condition have been very good, and consumer support seems to have picked-up since December. We should see the spot market adjust just a bit lower to promotable levels by the 15th of February with peak volumes from both Peru and Chile arriving in tandem.
Availability of imported black seedless remains fairly tight, although that will change as we start to see better arrivals from Chile over the next three weeks. The main varieties currently arriving to the US are Peruvian Midnight and Sweet Sapphire. General pricing currently ranges from $28-$32 with sizing being the determining factor. The industry will start receiving better volumes of unknowns from Chile in February and we will see the spot market get to promotable levels by the middle of the month.