The table grape supply volume in the U.S. market is currently only half of what it was a year ago, but prices for two major varieties have been have been dropping and are now approaching the poor levels seen during the 2017 season.
Data from the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) shows supply during weeks 1-5 this year was 68,000 metric tons (MT) – 52% lower than the 142,000MT registered last year. It is also 11% lower than in 2016.
Year-on-year grape exports from the Southern Hemisphere to the U.S. have been far lower, with Peru’s supply dropping 80% to 12,000MT and Chile’s falling 38% to 50,000MT. The California supply, meanwhile, was double the previous two seasons’ levels at 6,000MT.
However, prices over recent weeks for Flame Seedless and Sugraone may not be as expected given the low volumes.
Average FOB prices for an 8.2kg box of imported Flame Seedless during January ranged from US$24-26 (taking West and East Coast prices into account), but in week 5 this range fell to US$17-20.
By comparison, in 2017 these ranges were US$17-18 (January) and US$14-15 (week 5), while in 2016 the price ranges were much higher and more stable, at US$37-43 and US$37-41 respectively.
For the Sugraone variety, average prices this year during January saw ranges of US$25-28, slipping to US$21-22 in week 5. These levels are similar to last year’s season that saw US$22-26 and US$17-19 respectively. In 2016, the levels were again much higher at US$33-35 and US$36-37.
In a State of the Market report for week 5 prepared by Chilean consultancy company Decofrut, the fall in Flame Seedless was partly attributed to “conditions problems and low interest in general”, while Sugraone movement was described as “not very agile”.
In this article volumes have been rounded up or down to the nearest 1,000MT and prices to the nearest dollar.