Market Update For Table Grapes
Week of October 26 – November 1
November table grape sales are typically very strong, but the industry has been challenged with shipments over the past 6 weeks down over 20% compared to 2018 and 2019. Even more troubling is that the national average retail price is currently below $1.99 per lb. and hasn’t had an impact on overall movement either. The industry is dealing with a combination of declining consumer support and a 50% drop in food service sales. Trying to analyze consumer buying habits during a global pandemic has become almost impossible, so marketers will just continue to offer very aggressive FOB’s and hope retailers will keep store level pricing at or below current levels. Although the most recent Storage Report indicates similar volumes on-hand compared to 2019, the industry is lacking any momentum. With cool temperatures and dry weather in the extended forecast, growers will be picking grapes well into November. South American supplies are already in the US, which will only complicate matters more for California growers. Very limited supplies from Brazil are on the east coast now and more seedless are coming as shipments from Peru and Brazil pick-up in November. With imports and domestic fruit available now through December, retailers will have plenty of options before transitioning completely to South American supplies in January.
The most recent Cold Storage Report still indicates more than 1 million fewer boxes of red seedless currently on hand compared to this time last year, but overall spot market FOB’s still remain very depressed. The food service industry uses substantial volumes of red seedless grapes, so the impact from Covid-19 has taken its toll on the market. Growers are harvesting good volumes of Allison, Jack Salutes and Sweet Celebrations and putting away their strongest fruit for the December market. Most growers have finished packing Scarlets for the season, but there are more than 2 million boxes currently on-hand. Pricing on conventional red seedless varieties currently ranges from $12.95-$13.95 on medium/large, $14.95 on large and $14.95-$18.95 on x-large with the mostly market at $16.95. Premium lots of Sweet Celebration and Jack Salute are fetching $18.95-$20.95 with the mostly market at $18.95. This has been an exceptionally good year for California red seedless quality and eating experience, so it’s even more concerning that overall movement has been flat. With volumes of Peruvian Crimsons now going on water, retailers will have options in late November and December if California condition should decline. The industry should be able to transition smoothly to Souther American imports in January.
With added volumes of proprietary green seedless like Autumn Crisp and Great Green, there are currently 800K more boxes of green seedless in cold storages compared to this same time last year. Autumn King numbers are 15% lower than last season and we should see even fewer Autumn Kings available in December. There were plenty of indicators that pointed to substantially lower volumes of storage fruit this year, but overall weak movement and the addition of almost 1 million boxes of proprietary green seedless has softened that view just a bit. Imported green seedless will have in impact on the spot market in November and December as both Brazil and Peru will have supplies in the US. Timson and Thompsons are now on water from Peru and Brazil has proprietary varieties like Sweet Globe and Arra 15’s on the east coast and on water. With questions regarding the overall quality and condition of this year’s late-season California crop, we could see some retailers make a move to switch to imports sooner than later. Pricing has remained somewhat stable ranging from $15.95-$16.95 on large and $16.95-$20.95 on x-large with the mostly market at $18.95. Autumn Crisp seem to be topping the market with pricing ranging from 22.95-24.95. Most marketers have strong green seedless program business for November and December, but those relying on spot market sales will be challenged as what once looked to be a short deal, may not quite pan out.
Black seedless demand and movement remains fair at best with only a few retailers promoting for Halloween. Pricing has remained fairly level, even with close to 30% less volume in cold storage compared to this time last year. There are still good volumes of Autumn Royal left to harvest along with proprietary varieties like Sweet Sapphire and Moon Drop. Pricing on conventional black seedless currently ranges from $18.95-$22.95 with the mostly market at $20.95 with proprietary varieties trading $2 higher. Expectations are to see the market remain unchanged through the balance of the month.