Grapes in Charts: Record California volumes reverse Chilean pricing trends

February 19 , 2019

In this ‘In Charts‘ series of mini-articles, Colin Fain of data visualization tool Agronometrics illustrates how the U.S. market is evolving. In each series, he will look at a different fruit commodity, focusing on a different origin or topic in each installment to see what factors are driving change.

In what is a very atypical season, table grape volumes have fallen dramatically over the last few weeks to usher in unusually high prices. In this article I’ll look at how Chile is developing, which will serve as a complement to my previous piece on the subject Grapes in Charts: How will Chile’s expected crop affect U.S. market against backdrop of low prices?

Grape Prices and Volumes

(Source: USDA Market News via Agronometrics)

[Agronometrics users can view this chart with live updates here]

Although it is normal for prices to increase as volumes fall, what is strikingly abnormal about this season so far is how the pricing dynamics have gone completely against the normal trends, steadily rising throughout the Chilean season as opposed to entering high and slowly falling as the campaign progresses.

Historic Grape Prices from Chile

(Source: USDA Market News via Agronometrics)

[Agronometrics users can view this chart with live updates here]

The cause of this backwardness in the market is an unusually strong production from California, whose market options were also limited by the tariffs imposed by China. As a consequence the U.S. market was flooded with fruit, building up inventories that still needed to be cleared even when Chile’s crop began arriving.

Historic Grape Volumes

(Source: USDA Market News via Agronometrics)

[Agronometrics users can view this chart with live updates here]

The resulting prices were the lowest we have seen in the last five years from week 39 right the way through week 2.

Historic Grape Prices

(Source: USDA Market News via Agronometrics)

[Agronometrics users can view this chart with live updates here]

Considering that Chile is expected to ship a similar amount to last year, I think that the outlook I published in the last article still holds, and we should see the market shift back to how it normally operates over the next couple of weeks.

On a separate note, as a useful tool for readers to gauge how the markets are currently evolving, we offer weekly pricing by fruit size.

Red Seedless, Non-Organic, Prices by Size

(Source: USDA Market News via Agronometrics)

[Agronometrics users can view this chart with live updates here]

Red Seedless, Non-Organic, Prices by Size (Week 7)

Sizes Price Reported
Average $25.80
med $21.00
med-large $26.60
large $25.80
extra-large $27.80

In our ‘In Charts’ series, we work to tell some of the stories that are moving the industry. Feel free to take a look at the other articles by clicking here.

You can keep track of the markets daily through Agronometrics, a data visualization tool built to help the industry make sense of the huge amounts of data that professionals need to access to make informed decisions. If you found the information and the charts from this article useful, feel free to visit us at www.agronometrics.com where you can easily access these same graphs, or explore the other 23 fruits we currently track.

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  1. john says:

    Would our friends at Agronometrics care to publish their estimate of how much of the volume is presold/prepirced and and how much is open to pricing.? We know that some fruit is already committed to programs and should not be considered in the spot market volume. The prices reflected by USDA ‘market’ are a subset of volume, it would be useful to quantify that subset.

    1. Colin Fain says:

      Hi John,

      Thank you for your comment. I remember that you had another very good comment on an apple article I wrote towards the end of the summer.

      In regards to the prices in our article, and the volumes they represent, you are spot on describing them as a subset of the market. As such, it would definitely be useful to quantify the impact of the subset as compared to other methods for commercializing the fruit in the market. Based on other work I have done with private datasets I can say that generally speaking the different levels of commercialization tend to rise and fall together. That said, I would define other market prices and Shipping Point to be related, but not identical. The latter is the pressure release for the other, so it’s a good thing that have space with in which the two can vary… especially when we have an unexpected season.

      As of yet, however, I haven’t found any public data that can help shed any light on how much of the volume leaving packing houses and coming through the ports is being commercialized on spot markets, or is pre-committed. There are things that can be done and investigated, but they require diving a bit deeper which I can only do with private data. If you are interested, look me up, I’d be happy to chat about it.