Market Update For Table Grapes

Week of November 30 – December 6

December is shaping up with a clear path to an easy transition to imported table grapes. It will come down to the quality and condition of the 12 million boxes of domestic fruit currently in cold storages. A portion of the fruit is fresh-packed, but the majority can range from 15-45 days old. Early Peruvian arrivals of red and green seedless from the northern region of Piura are already in the US market with the southern region of Ica starting to pack increased volumes week by week. When is it the right time to switch out of California and into imported supplies?  As long as domestic fruit continues to meet spec, most retailers will plan on hanging-in until the end of the year. A combination of Peruvian, Brazilian and Chilean fruit should support a full transition in January, but allow retailers to jump in early if California quality declines rapidly. With freight rates still very high, retailers east of the Mississippi may choose to transition earlier, as the bulk of imported fruit will arrive to the east coast, providing a logistical value.  Overall market prices for both imports and California grapes are in-line with one another, so retailers will find it easy to stay with the best quality fruit through the end of the year. 

Red Seedless

Surprisingly, there are still volumes of California red seedless hanging, but extremely low overnight temperatures could put an end to growers hopes to keep harvesting. With more than 6 million boxes of red grapes in storage and arrivals of imported fruit already in the US market, walking away from the remaining crop should be an easy decision. Erratic growing condition in California have contributed to inconsistent quality on many proprietary varieties like Allison and Jack Salute, but some would say this was a banner year for Scarlet Royal quality. With FOB’s well below the cost of production since September, growers having to pay royalties for licensed varieties have struggled to justify the expense. Pricing on California red seedless currently ranges from $12.95-$13.95 on medium/large, $13.95-$14.95 on large and $14.95-$18.95 on x-large with the mostly market at $16.95. Early volumes of Peruvian Crimsons are also available on the east coast and overall quality and condition has been very good.  Pricing on imported Crimsons currently ranges from $20-22 on large and $24–$26 on x-large. With only moderate arrivals of imported red seedless expected for the next few weeks, look for California marketers to keep pushing very aggressive pricing in hopes of cleaning up by the middle of January. 

Green Seedless

Overall quality and condition on California storage green seedless have been holding-up and most growers who have big numbers in storage seem to have strong programmed business in place through the balance of the season. Unless we see a substantial dip in overall quality and condition, we expect the majority of retailers to continue with domestic fruit through Christmas. Pricing on good quality storage Autumn Kings currently ranges from $18.95-$22.95 with the mostly market at $19.95. We do expect pricing to tick higher over the next two weeks, with most contracted programs ranging from $24.95-$28.95. Only a rise in rejections would force the industry to look at transitioning to imports earlier, but there won’t be enough green from Peru or Brazil to support the market until January. There are decent supplies of Peruvian greens on the east coast with FOBs ranging from $24–$28 with size and variety being the determining factors.

Black Seedless

California black seedless demand and movement have continued to be lackluster.  There are still fairly substantial volumes of Autumn Royal and Adora available in cold storage and quality and condition have been good. Pricing on Autumn Royal currently ranges from $16.95-$20.95 with the mostly market at $18.95. Adora are trading $2-$4 higher, but marketers are still looking for business. Expectations are to see spot market pricing unchanged until either volumes clean up or demand increases. We should see early volumes of imported black seedless by the first week of January.