Grape supplies from Mexico have increased significantly after warmer weather finally entered the region. Prices are easing as there is now enough volume for importers to meet the pent-up demand. Importers also mentioned that despite the delay, overall quality and condition haven't been affected. It has been suggested that 16-18 million boxes of grapes will arrive from Mexico in a six week time frame, so the question now is whether or not USDA inspection officials will be able to handle that amount of fruit in a timely manner.
"Warmer temperatures throughout the growing regions of Mexico have finally come, bringing a steady flow of fruit crossing the border into Nogales," said Ira Greenstein of Direct Source Marketing. "FOB pricing is adjusting lower with the spot market and program business at similar levels. As production comes fully online, it remains to be seen how USDA inspection officials will be able to manage the compressed volumes arriving to the US market. Expectations are to see strong consumer support as retailers are locked-in with excellent promotions through the balance of the month on all Mexican table grape varieties. There are decent volumes of California table grapes being packed in the Coachella Valley, although overall pricing is significantly higher than their Mexican counterpart."
Red seedless now in good supply
Supplies of red seedless grapes had been very limited for several weeks after supplies of Chilean fruit were exhausted. Delays were experienced in Mexico when the cooler weather slowed proper color and sugar development. However, importers are now enjoying a good supply of Flames and early volumes of proprietary red seedless varieties like Jack Salute, Krissy, Arra 29 and Sweet Celebration, with more expected to follow once other regions also get underway.
"Overall pricing on Mexican Flame seedless currently ranges from $12.95-$13.95 on medium large $13.95-$14.95 on large and $14.95-$16.95 on x-large," Greenstein observed. "Currently, importers are not fetching a premium for their proprietary varieties with only a $1-$2 spread over Flame Seedless. There is a heavy crop of Mexican red seedless hanging in both Hermosillo and Caborca and expectations are to see steady volumes crossing into the US market for the next four weeks. Red seedless from Coachella currently ranges from $18.95-$20.95 and we can expect to see US growers continue to reach for higher pricing through the balance of the month."
Green seedless transitioning to Sugraone
Some of the early Mexican green seedless varieties such as Perlette and Earlisweet have largely finished for the season. Growers are now transitioning to Sugraone along with some proprietary varieties. Prices have eased back but demand is still strong. According to Greenstein, quality has improved, leading to a reduction in rejections.
"FOB’s have adjusted lower, settling in at $18.95-$20.95 with the mostly market at $18.95 for premium lots," he said. "Retailers are set with aggressive promotions on Mexican green seedless through the balance of the month, and we should see supplies move through the system in a brisk fashion. With strong demand, it remains to be seen how overall pricing levels will adjust as the season progresses. The industry will be receiving condensed volumes due to Mexico’s delayed start, and importers will have to keep their foot on the gas in order to move the large crop currently hanging."
Black seedless steady, Red Globes limited
Black seedless grape volumes out of Mexico are seeing a similar trend to the red and green seedless, with a strong improvement in availability. The market is steady though with demand and volume well balanced at the moment. "Typically, Mexican Summer Royals are not a commodity in high demand, but solid retail promotions have kept volumes moving through the system," said Greenstein. "Pricing currently ranges from $18.95-$20.95 with enough supplies available to meet daily demand. Look for this market to remain at current levels in the short term and adjust lower if inventories begin to build."
He added that for Red Globes, the prediction is for supplies to be limited as Chilean volumes have now been exhausted, while Mexico's acreage has been significantly reduced. "Supplies of Chilean Red Globes have almost come to an end and FOB’s currently range from $18-$20. Mexican Red Globe acreage is significantly lower in comparison to previous years, and the industry should not expect to see any meaningful volume crossing into the US market this year."