Movement of California table grapes is steady, with growers and shippers shipping good volume and retailers and other stores continuing to promote table grapes. Red seedless grapes are seeing the most aggressive pricing, according to suppliers, but all varieties are showing good momentum. Ira Greenstein of Direct Source Marketing, believes this situation will continue into October. He also noted that although overall quality and condition is good, there have been some weather effects on the fruit.
"Retailers are continuing to lend their support by spotlighting California table grapes in weekly circulars, and expectations are to see that trend continue well into October," he said. "Significant spring showers, a stretch of extreme heat in July and high humidity throughout the Central San Joaquin Valley have all negatively affected this year’s crop. The California table grape commission has already adjusted down total expected volumes twice this season, and we could see further reductions in overall production due to mildew and other condition related issues."
Many red seedless varieties available
As mentioned, movement has been excellent for red seedless grapes on the back of strong consumer demand along with retail promotions. There are currently good volumes of Scarlet Royal grapes, along with Krissy, Magenta, Sweet Celebration and other proprietary varieties. Suppliers say the overall quality of red seedless grapes is better than green seedless this season.
"In an effort to keep coolers clean, marketers are continuing to offer aggressive FOB pricing, especially on Scarlet Royals," Greenstein observed. "Pricing on Scarlet Royals currently ranges from $12.95-$13.95 on medium/large, $14.95-$15.95 on large and $15.95-$17.95 on x-large with the mostly market at $16.95. Look for FOB’s to remain at these levels through the balance of the month as growers continue to work through the peak of Scarlet Royal production."
More issues for green seedless
Greenstein further noted that the quality and condition of green seedless grapes is beginning to decline. The spring rains this year - which occurred during the early part of the growing season - have heightened the risk of mildew and other similar conditions. As he described, "Typically, this is the time of year when California green seedless quality should be at its peak. Some growers have commented that as they walk through green seedless vineyards, the smell of fermentation is prevalent, which indicates advanced condition issues."
Growers are taking steps to mitigate this by applying fungicide treatments, but humidity levels during the summer have not helped. The market has responded with prices increasing slightly, and the question has been raised as to how the remainder of the season will play out.
"Pricing on more common varieties like Ivory, Princess and Autumn Kings currently ranges from $13.95-14.95 on medium/large, $15.95-$16.95 on large and $16.95-$18.95 on x-large," Greenstein said. "Growers and shippers with proprietary varieties like Sorbet, Stella Bella, Sorbet and Autumn Crisp are trying to fetch a premium $1-2 higher. The industry will have to wait and see how the crop progresses, although all indicators point to green seedless supplies coming up short towards the end of the season."
Black seedless movement expected to improve
Suppliers note that black seedless grape movement was "sluggish" during August, but movement has since improved, and the expectation is for sales to increase as the month of September progresses.
Summer Royal harvest has now concluded, but supply out of the warehouse is still possible. The attention has turned towards Autumn Royals, while proprietary varieties such as Sunworld's Midnight Beauty are also starting to see greater volumes entering the market.
"Pricing on good quality black seedless currently ranges from $14.95-$16.95 on large and $16.95-$18.95 on x-large with the mostly market at $17.95," Greenstein concluded. "Sunworld’s Midnight Beauty are also available now, with pricing ranging from $16.95-$20.95 with size being the determining factor. Look for promotional volumes of Midknights to be available for the next three weeks."