A report compiled by Origin Fruit Services South America shows that California table grape stocks as of Sept. 30 were 12.9 million boxes – 19% higher than the 10.8 million boxes registered at the same time last year.
The second-highest level over the last decade – as far back as the report stretches – was in 2008 when stocks of 11.2 million boxes were registered. Since 2009, stocks as of Sept. 30 have ranged from 7.5 million boxes (2012) to 11.1 million boxes (2010).
Stocks of red seedless grapes were recently registered at 7.4 million boxes – up 39% year-on-year. White seedless volumes at on par with last year at 4.5 million, while black seedless are up 16% at 656,000 boxes.
Red Globes, meanwhile, are down 25% year-on-year at 365,000 boxes.
Record shipping volume
Separately, the California Grape Commission has announced that the industry set a new five-week record shipping, moving over 23 million boxes into the worldwide marketplace Sept. 8 through Oct. 12.
Kathleen Nave, president of the California Table Grape Commission, highlighted that reporting of daily shipments to USDA is voluntary, but most of the industry participates so on a year-to-year basis the number of shippers reporting is very consistent.
“This year, unfortunately, there was a period of nearly three months when shipments to USDA were under-reported compared to prior years,” Nave said.
“This caused confusion as it appeared that with excellent quality and a large crop, the volume wasn’t moving. Once the reports were updated, two things became clear: volume was moving all along and the last five weeks set a volume record.”
Due to the voluntary nature of USDA daily reporting, the data collected is typically 22 percent lower than the actual volume reported to the commission.
“It is pretty easy to add 22 percent to the last five weeks of USDA data and see why the expectation is that the shipments will have blown away industry actuals,” Nave said.
Based on the retail promotions and advertising lined up through the end of the season, the commission expects record volume weeks to continue.
Nave noted that while tariffs had impacted global markets, table grapes were shipping into all of the industry’s traditional export markets and according to the latest USDA data, exports were down less than eight percent through August.
According to Nave, there are some markets that have increased volumes, including Australia, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, South Korea, and the Netherlands.
With 60-65 percent of the volume typically shipping Sept. 1 through January, Nave said that planning for an aggressive fall and winter promotion schedule is the norm, but that this year dollars have been added to the budget to support additional late season retail promotions and extend consumer advertising reach.