While the coronavirus crisis has had an immense impact on the food industry at every step of the supply chain, the ports and cold storages have operated close to normal levels since the onset of the crisis. “This has kept the flow of imported table grapes moving through the system in a controlled fashion,” Ira Greenstein of Direct Source Marketing shares.
For the rest of the month, Greenstein predicts: “Overall arrivals on imported table grapes will see a steady decline through the balance of the month.” This forecast is based on the fact that the April 10th USDA marketing order has now gone into effect. This marketing order dictates that each year between April 10th and July 10th all Vinifera species table grapes must meet minimum grade, size, and maturity requirements, which will be enforced through inspections and certifications prior to importation.
Red seedless outsell green seedless
The red seedless grapes have been moving well and have been highlighted by retailers. “There are good supplies of Crimson Seedless, Allison, and Timco available and overall quality and condition is good. There are ample supplies of premium fruit for the spot market, and retailers have continued to spotlight imported red seedless in weekly circulars,” Greenstein says. This has had as a result that red seedless grapes are now outselling the greens 4-1, according to Greenstein.
The volumes arriving from Chile are steady, and over the next two weeks this is expected to continue. “There’ll be decent numbers entering the US over the next two weeks,” says Greenstein. “The Peruvian supplies left on hand and Chilean supplies are fetching the same pricing with FOB’s on good quality red seedless ranging from $14-$16 on medium large, $16-$18 on large, and mostly $20.00 on extra-large. With the volumes of Mexican Flame Seedless not expected to arrive until the first full week of May, we can expect to see overall FOB’s on red seedless hold at these levels.”
In contrast, the demand and movement on black seedless grapes coming out of Peru and Chile has been low, even though there’s decent supplies available now and through the end of the month of the Chilean Autumn Royal and Peruvian Sweet Favor. Retailers have made the choice to reduce SKU’s and unfortunately black seedless seems to be one of them. “Pricing on good quality black seedless currently ranges from $16.00-$18.00 on large and $20.00-$22.00 for premium extra-large fruit. The FOB pricing is expected to remain at these levels as importers continue to push through their on-hand inventory.” Greenstein says.
Limited supplies on green seedless
The supplies of green seedless being shipped to the US will be limited through the end of the season, says Greenstein. “The majority of the green seedless destined for the United States is already here. Although there are still decent volumes of imported green seedless available on the east coast, importers are having to repack a good portion of fruit with only limited volumes of premium storage Thompsons available. The overall condition of the storage Thompsons has been good, but supplies are only expected to last for another two weeks,” he shares.
With the volumes being limited for the green seedless, pricing is high and continues to inch higher. “Pricing on Chilean green seedless currently ranges from $28-$30 on medium/large, $30-$32 on large, and $32-$36 on extra-large with condition being the determining factor. The spot market will likely continue at its current trajectory as importers clean up remaining supplies over the next two weeks, though it’s uncertain if these high prices can hold as consumers may be unwilling to support a $3.99 or higher retail,” Greenstein concludes.