Market Update For Table Grapes
Week of September 13 – September 19
According to the most recent US Drought Monitor Report, many counties in California have been heightened from extreme to exceptional condition. Growers throughout the Central San Joaquin Valley are absolutely feeling the impact of local water restrictions. Insufficient water can significantly affect crop yield, sizing, shelf life and condition. Similarly, we have seen a rise in retail rejections, due to the combination of aged inventory and heat related quality issues as well. That being said, growers are hopeful that improving quality and increased demand will put them back in position to recover from a very poor start to the season. Retailers should be able to take advantage of promotable FOB’s on all varieties well into October. Consumers have hopefully not lost confidence in the average quality fruit that has been in the market since early July. We can expect much better condition through the balance of the season, if the industry can avoid any major fall rain events. At this point, new estimates project the California table grape crop to fall below 100 million boxes, giving growers hope for profitable pricing to finish out the second half of the deal.
The California red seedless market has been in balance as good demand and moderate supply have kept pricing stable over the summer months. Red Seedless harvests are now hitting peak levels and we have seen the market adjust slightly lower over the past two weeks. As we head into the middle of September, production on Scarlet Royals and other proprietary varieties will continue at a steady pace, and we should see demand stay strong as well. FOB’s should stay at their current levels, allowing retailers to take advantage of promotional pricing. Overall quality and condition on Scarlet Royals have been surprisingly good this season with relatively few defects and an excellent eating experience. Newer plantings of proprietary varieties have less canopy coverage, certainly impacting over quality due to the summer heat waves. Scarlet Royals are trading from $14.95-$15.95 on medium/large, $16.95-$17.95 on large and $18.95–$20.95 on x-large, with the mostly market at $18.95. Sweet Celebration, Krissy and other proprietary varieties are fetching are trading from $18.95-$22.95 with size being the determining factor.
For over a month, cold storages throughout the Central San Joaquin Valley have been packed with green seedless grapes. Condensed volumes in August with only fair movement put most marketers behind the eight ball and looking to make deals. Even with aggressive FOB’s set below the cost of production, retailers focused their promotional activity on strawberries and other summer fruits. What’s more, overall consumer support was lacking as marketers were forced to move aging lots that presented poorly on the shelf. Thankfully, many shippers are catching up and now loading fresher packed fruit. It may be too early to think about raising the spot market, but don’t be surprised to see pricing tick higher in October. Currently, good quality green seedless are selling from $12.95-$14.95 on medium/large, $14.95-$16.95 on large and $16.95–$18.95 on x-large. Retailers can take advantage of excellent opportunities to promote California green seedless through the balance of September and well into October. There is concern about the overall storability of this year’s late crop. We won’t really know how much premium fruit can be put away for the December markets for another 4 to 6 weeks. South American growers are preparing to send good volumes into the US market as early as late November, with expectations of California supplies coming up short at the end of the year.
There are no changes to the black seedless market, and expectations are to see FOB’s and movement remain unchanged through the month of September. Demand continues to be underwhelming, even as marketers have set pricing at aggressive levels. Currently good black seedless are trading between $16.95-$20.95 with size and variety being the determining factor. Marketers with Sweet Sapphire are looking to make deals as this variety has lost some traction both domestically and for export.