Market Update For Table Grapes
Week of August 10 – August 16
Table grape demand and overall movement have picked up nicely as consumer support continues to increase week by week. Overall quality and condition of fresh-packed California grapes have been exceptional compared to what the industry had in the pipeline from Mexico. The challenge now for most retailers is managing through the myriad of table grape varieties and determining what the right price is for the fruit they prefer. With over 20 California grape varieties now in production, the general spot markets can easily have a $10 range based on size, color and eating experience. Will consumers gravitate towards Candy Crunch and Cotton Candy at $4.99-$5.99 per lb.? Can growers obtain the premiums they seek for their own proprietary varieties? These are just a few questions and challenges the industry now has to navigate through the balance of the season. The most recent California Table Grape Commission report has reduced the overall crop size to just over 100 million total cases, still putting pressure on marketers to keep offering retailers strong promotional opportunities for August and September.
Most Flame growers have made several passes and overall volumes are now on the decline. Overall quality on this year’s Flame crop was outstanding and should set the table nicely for strong demand and movement for the next round of red seedless varieties. Growers in the Central San Joaquin Valley are starting to harvest volumes of Scarlet Royal, Krissy and Magenta, while just a few are still moving out remaining volumes of Flame Seedless. With fewer varieties of red seedless to choose from, the overall spot market has not fluctuated very much. Strong retail promotions have helped move through a reasonable Flame crop and kept FOB’s relatively stable. Pricing on good quality Flame Seedless currently ranges from $15.95-$16.95 on medium/large, $16.95-$18.95 on large and $18.95-$20.95 on premium x-large with the mostly market now at $18.95. Look for most retailers to transition out of Flames as there are few premium lots left to ship. Better volumes of premium Krissy and Magenta are available with FOB’s ranging from $18.95-$22.95 with size being the determining factor. Scarlet Royals are trading at similar levels but look for FOB’s on Scarlets to adjust lower over the next two weeks.
After a slow start, California growers are hitting stride and harvesting significant volumes of green seedless. Sugraone volumes were lower this year and overall FOB’s remained fairly strong. Now is when we will start to see peak production and retailers will have so many options on what to buy. The general market trends are no longer in play as overall FOB pricing ranges widely from grower to grower. Varieties like Sugraone, Valley Pearl and Princess seem to trade at one level, while propriety varieties like Pristine, Sugar Drop, Stella Bella and Sugar Crunch are trading for higher dollars. At the end of the day, supply and demand will always take precedent, but for now growers have attempted to separate themselves from the general spot market. Expect market pricing to say at promotable levels through September, when growers will then start putting their strongest lots away for November and December. Spot market pricing on traditional varieties currently ranges from $15.95-$16.95 for medium/large, $17.95-$18.95 on LG and $18.95-$20.95 On x-large with the mostly market at $18.95. Most growers with premium proprietary varieties are quoting from $20.95-$24.95 with the mostly market at $22.95, but it’s uncertain how long they can hold onto these FOB’s as harvesting ramps up over the next 4 weeks.
Overall quality and condition of California black seedless have been very good so far this season. Summer Royal are the main variety available, although we will begin to see more proprietary black seedless available as the month progresses. Overall movement has only been fair as consumers seem to be focusing their purchases on red and green seedless. Pricing currently ranges from $16.95-$18.95 on large and $18.95-$20.95 on x-large. Marketers with proprietary varieties such as Midnights and Sweet Sapphire are looking for a premium, but black seedless sales in general have not been able to support that.