North American table grape market faces "tricky transition"
The North American table grape market is facing a "tricky" transition throughout the end of May and into June with a potential for heavy concentration in early July, according to multinational fruit supplier Vanguard Direct.
Dirk Winkelmann, President of Vanguard Direct, said as the switch to Northern Hemisphere supply begins, the North American market continues to work through lower-quality, tail-end volumes from Chile and Peru, and Mexican supply is delayed anywhere from seven to 14 days with the Jalisco region having the only crossing in the past few weeks.
"Specifically the Hermosillo and Caborca regions look to be setting up for a difficult start – the delay will cause a concentration of the forecasted 21 million carton crop within a 6-week window and it will seep into the start of the Central Valley California deal in early July," Winkelmann said.
However, demand is very good for grapes that have good condition, particularly green grapes, he said. The challenges continue to be working through the remaining volume of poor condition Peruvian and Chilean grapes.
"We have the typical 2-tier market now at the end of the season for good product versus poor product. The expectation at retail is to now move to fresh Northern Hemisphere crop."
Overall, pricing has been good for quality green grapes, with a focus on new and exciting IP varieties such as Sweet Globe and Autumncrisp, Winkelmann said.
The red grape market was under more pressure as the Chilean post-rain volume arrivals never dropped as expected, he said. The condition issues resulting from the rains are further exacerbating the challenged red market, he added.
Regarding color categories, green varieties are performing very well as they "deliver a great eating experience for consumers and it has taken time for these exceptional new green varieties to achieve the critical mass volume that allows for promotion and market penetration," he said.
However, there continues to be a shortage for this color category, especially in the IP varieties, both currently and looking at the season overall.
"The global demand for these new varieties and the willingness to pay a premium in some markets such as in Asia have allowed growers to be very selective in where they send these IP green varieties and in which volume."
Winkelmann concluded by saying: "Most transitions can be tricky and this year will be no exception. Sadly for some Chilean and Peruvian growers, the poor condition of the fruit is going to mean poor returns to growers who with 2020 hindsight might have been better served to reduce shipments of questionable condition. It’s a gamble that rarely if ever pays dividends."
As for Mexico, the sellers’ most critical task will be to create sufficient demand in advance of harvest, John Pandol, chairman of the grape division of the Fresh Produce Association of the Americas said.