While the first shipments of Peruvian and Brazilian grapes are currently on the water, the California grape season should extend through the end of the year. The Central San Joaquin Valley has been seeing mild temperatures with no rain, but colder temperatures and a slight chance of rain are expected by the weekend. Baring any major weather events, it’s expected that shippers will keep packing fruit all the way into December. “Overall table grape movement has not been stellar,” says Ira Greenstein of Direct Source Marketing. “Movement continues to fall significantly behind the last two seasons, but growers are hoping that November promotions can kick-start the industry,” he adds.
If November doesn’t see an increase in spot market FOB’s, it could result in growers having to forego harvesting their fruit. “It just won’t make financial sense to put it in the box,” says Greenstein. While California growers have been confident about the storability of their late-season red and green seedless grapes, there has also been a rise in rejection reports on aged inventory over the past week, according to Greenstein. “With Covid-19 on the forefront and so many variables in play, we can throw out historical data, leaving a very unclear picture of the markets in November and December,” he says.
Fresh packed green seedless to continue for two more weeks
The movement on California green seedless has not been great but there should be fresh packed fruit entering the system for another two weeks with firm FOB pricing on good quality fruit. “Pricing on California Autumn Kings currently ranges from $14.95-$16.95 on large and $16.95-$19.95 on extra-large, with the majority of the market falling around $18.95. There is a $4.00 premium being collected by marketers of Autumn Crisp, and the FOB market for those is between $22.95-$24.95,” Greenstein says.
A shortage in supply of green seedless was expected in December, but this void looks to be filled as imported Peruvian and Brazilian shipments are already on the water and overall slower movement could stretch supplies of domestic fruit well into December. “With the heaviest volumes of imported green seedless from Ica delayed by almost two weeks, California marketers should have just enough time to wrap up their season. We could see FOB’s on premium California green seedless adjust a bit higher in the month of November and then again significantly in December as long as consumers support the commodity,” Greenstein explains.
Promotional opportunities for red seedless grapes through November
There are still plenty of red seedless grapes to harvest, according to Greenstein. “Marketers will keep their foot on the gas for the next few weeks, and retailers can expect promotional opportunities through the balance of the month.” In addition to the volumes that still need to be harvested, there are also significant inventories of aging California red seedless on hand and marketers are trying to push it through the pipeline quickly. “Terminal markets around the country are moving through significant volumes of suspect quality fruit, and expectations are to see that trend continue for some time,” says Greenstein.
Due to the backlog of older fruit that growers need to move through, the good volumes of excellent quality fresh packed Allisons, Sweet Celebrations, Scarlotta and other red seedless varieties aren’t the main focus now. Pricing on good quality 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 extra-large. Marketers are trying to hold the price for fresh packed fruit with FOB’s on premium lots being quoted from $18.95-$20.95. We will see the first arrivals of Peruvian Crimsons by the second week of November with FOB’s expected to range from $24-$26 on the east coast,” Greenstein shares.
Low demand for black seedless grapes
The consumer support for the black seedless grapes has been disappointing throughout the season, according to Greenstein. “While quality and condition have been excellent this year, this hasn’t impacted movement. There are still decent volumes of Autumn Royal left to harvest along with proprietary varieties like Sweet Sapphire and Moon Drop. The conventional black seedless grapes are seeing prices ranging from $16.95 - $20.95, but proprietary varieties are about $2-$4 higher,” says Greenstein. The early volumes of imported black seedless should arrive by the first week of January.