Supplies from Italy and California are down

Strong market for California kiwifruit

Even as Chile’s kiwifruit season finished up in the third week of September, prices ended on a definite high note, which should carry through into California’s season. Prices ended out the season in the mid to low $20 to as high as mid to low $30 range. New crop Californian fruit packing began on September 25 and Chris Kragie with Western Fresh Marketing says prices in the market today are in the high teens to mid-$20 range “which is well above normal seasonal averages.” 

Shortage in Chile; high prices
Pricing is attributed to the shortage of fruit available from Chile. “Usually there’s enough fruit to support the market with a weekly increase in pricing where this year the Chilean season we were seeing daily pricing increases just to slow demand,” says Kragie. Even with incremental price increases being put in place to try to slow demand, he says demand didn’t decrease until the price was in the mid-$30 range. “Even at that we still had higher demand than supply but we were able to get by until we started California.” 

Now, with a continued fruit shortage – in Italy, Kragie says that country’s supply is down 15 – 20 percent and he estimate’s California’s supply to be down 10 – 15 percent this year and the size profile is smaller fruit. “With that shortage and a world shortage even before we started our California crop it’s taking quite a bit of fruit to fill the pipeline. Prices aren’t dropping as sharply as they normally would.” 

Californian & Italian fruit sustaining market
At this point in the year California and Italy are the sole providers for kiwifruit to the market. Kragie adds that with the strong pricing he doesn’t foresee a sharp decrease the whole season this will lead into good Chilean and New Zealand prices once they start in late March. California's fruit is being shipped throughout North America. The first Italian fruit is estimated to arrive on the east coast around November 1. “Until then we’ll be supporting with 100 percent California fruit nationwide,” he says. 

Increased acreage
Earlier this year Western Fresh acquired more kiwifruit acreage through a new grower relationship that will increase our volume significantly. “We should pack an additional 125,000 boxes this year, our goal is to continue to grow with this new relationship as our demand for fruit increases,” says Kragie. 

Quality for Californian kiwifruit very good to start
California’s quality seems to be very good so far, though Kragie is reluctant to say that will last all season long. Weather in Chile last season resulted in some issues mid to late season regarding quality. California may follow suit due to our weather this past year, he says. “The industry was able to react to those quality conditions because of the shortage. They loosened the restrictions for Chilean fruit.” There weren’t enough chill hours in Chile, which resulted in some isolated pitting; California has also experienced fewer chill hours. “We’re crossing our fingers,” he says. 

For more information: 
Chris Kragie 
Western Fresh Marketing 
Ph: 559-662-0301 

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