California kiwifruit market off to red hot start

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California kiwifruit market off to red hot start

California kiwifruit season-opening prices have been excellent for conventional Hayward variety sold in the domestic market. The season to date average FOB for a nine-kilo (19.8-pound) volume fill tray was $25.37.  Jeremy Toews, KAC’s assistant manager, said Dec. 12, “The average FOB prices are up compared to recent years. We had a great start on the season.”

At the end of November, approximately 28% of the Hayward crop had been shipped. This is a little higher than the normal average of about 24% for that period. Strong demand ranks these early-season shipment volumes as the fourth highest in the last nine years.

California’s kiwifruit crop is down about 20% from the 9.4 million seven-pound tray equivalents produced in 2021. Frost this spring cut back the 2022 volume to an estimated 7.2- to 7.5-million trays of the Hayward variety. This is still enough volume to sell well into the summer months. The next harvest begins in late September.

Non-Hayward varieties include the green Mega, and red and gold varieties of the Chinensis species. In 2021-22 the total non-Hayward varieties sold were 750,000 tray equivalents. Toews says the industry will exceed that amount due primarily to new red acreage coming into production.

Eighty percent of California’s kiwifruit is sold domestically. Canada, Mexico and Japan have historically been the largest export markets, but Australia has jumped in as a major buyer over the last two seasons. So far this year, 13% of the fruit has been exported to Australia. Toews said Australian buyers’ phytosanitary problems with another international supplier opened the door to California. 

This season’s first few flats were shipped Oct. 1. By Dec. 3, 1,519,461 tray equivalents had been shipped domestically, with an additional 365,545 flats going to export, for an average FOB export price of $30.34.

KAC administers the Federal Marketing Order for fresh market kiwifruit.  The Committee is composed of eleven grower members and alternates, and one public member and alternate. 

KAC, operating under USDA, was established in 1984 to allow growers to work together to stabilize market conditions, and build consumer confidence by providing a quality and consistent product. The committee sets minimum quality, size, grade, and maturity standards that all California grown and imported kiwifruit must meet.

The marketing order requires mandatory inspection by USDA of California grown and imported kiwifruit to ensure compliance with grades and standards. It collects and distributes industry statistics and is financed through assessments paid by handlers.  The current KAC assessment rate is $0.035 per 9 kilo volume fill container or equivalent.

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