Market Update For Table Grapes

Week of July 26 – July 31

By August, the Central San Joaquin Valley should be packing significant volumes of all table grape varieties.  However, a combination of extremely hot weather and a shrinking labor pool have put the industry well behind schedule. Smaller sizing on both red and green seedless has also impacted daily pack outs, as it’s taking more bunches to make a 19# box. The industry should continue to be very light on premium red grapes, as varieties like Krissy and Magenta are way behind schedule. We are starting to see better production on both black and green seedless. We can expect to see the overall spot market slide just a bit this week, but strong FOB retail demand has kept coolers clean. The bigger challenge for now is labor as growers struggle to find the manpower keep up with harvest schedules. Blocks of fruit that require intensive cleaning have been left behind, as the high cost of packing that fruit in a box does not pan out financially. The California Table Grape Commission projected a crop of over 110 million boxes. At the current pace of production and continued challenges in the field, we are now likely to see that number drop below 100 million.  With that being said, we could see a stronger spot market through the balance of the season.

Red Seedless

This year’s Arvin flame numbers are down significantly from past seasons, as some growers have pulled vines in favor of other commodities like Almonds. With the recent heatwave affecting overall production as well, FOB pricing has remained firm, especially on premium fruit fruit. We are starting to see inventories build on #2 boxes, as retailers continue to demand x-large fruit.  Unfortunately, the industry is packing out 70% of the Flames on large code and smaller. With Krissy’s and Scarlets easily two weeks away from any steady production, we can expect to see the spot market hold firm at current levels. Pricing ranges from $14.95-$16.95 on medium/large, $16.95-$18.95 on large and $18.95-$22.95 on x-large with the mostly market at $20.95. Overall quality and condition of this year’s Flames have only been fair, as the extreme heat throughout the valley has impacted shelf life. Retailers will be looking to make the switch to better varieties as soon as they are available.

Green Seedless

Growers in Arvin have been fighting sugar since the beginning of the deal, but that trend seems to be reversing now that we are past the hottest temperatures. We have seen some heat related damage on green seedless and overall storability has not been great so far. With growers now packing better numbers of Valley Pearl and Ivories, green seedless availability has definitely improved. Labor continues to affect harvest schedules, but there is enough fruit being packed to fill the pipeline and satisfy the daily demand. Spot market pricing has adjusted lower over the past 10 days, but strong retail business has helped to keep the markets somewhat stable. We should see very aggressive promotional opportunities on all green seedless varieties in the month of August. Growers are hoping that retailers will take advantage of the volumes and pricing and reduce retails at store level. FOB’s currently range from $15.95-$16.95 on medium/large, $16.95-$18.95 on large and $18.95-$22.95 on x-large with the mostly market at $20.95. Some growers with premium jumbo fruit are getting higher prices to export, but the cost and availability of logistics has forced more fruit back into the domestic market.

Black Seedless

Overall volumes of California black seedless have been off to a slow start, but demand has not been overwhelming either. We can expect numbers to pick-up this week with much more fruit available for the spot market. Some national retailers will be promoting all three colors over the next two weeks, so demand for black seedless may increase substantially. FOB’s currently range from $18.95-$20.95 on large and $22.95-$24.95 on x-large with the mostly at $22.95. The likelihood is that the spot market should slip in the month of August as production ramps-up on both conventional and proprietary varieties.