Grape volume to pick up by the end of the monthApril 10, 2019
Grape supplies continue to be even and volume will start to build by the end of April.
“Both districts from Mexico and California’s Central Valley will have promotable supplies. It also looks like a great quality grape year so far,” says Keith Wilson with King Fresh Produce LLC in Dinuba, Ca.
Wilson attributes the good crops to a variety of factors. “We had adequate chill hours this past winter which puts the grape vines into dormancy. Also–more and more–new, high-producing varieties are coming into production on a lot of ground both in California and Mexico.” He also notes that Mexico may start five to seven days later than normal.
Chile winding down
At the same time, the Chilean season for grapes is wrapping up with good supplies of red seedless grapes, but tighter availability on green seedless grapes.
Meanwhile demand on imported grapes is good currently with growers and shippers having an eye to promote fruit for the next few weeks.
As far as upcoming Holidays that fit well with Table Grape promotions. “The most important is Memorial Day. Memorial Day has always matched well with supplies from Mexico and Coachella, CA.,” notes Wilson.
Green pricing up
All of this means pricing right now on red grapes out of Chile are sitting at about $18-$20 while green grapes are in the $30 range. Wilson also notes that red grapes out of Chile may rise $2-$4/box. “Out of Mexico, we think the prices will be in an acceptable range to compel retailers to promote,” says Wilson.
What could continue to affect pricing on California grapes are labor rates. “We have a decent amount of people to work in the vineyards currently but our wage increase will be another $1/hour annually until January 1st 2022. By increasing $1/hour per year, that works out to an extra $.80 cents/box,” he says, noting that the industry continues to push in the direction of automation to handle a labor-intensive product such as grapes.
But for now, the industry transitions away from Chilean imports, which continue to trickle in, to more domestic supplies. Mexican grapes will come in slowly in late April and by May 10th, the supplies should increase in volume.