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California grapes see steady production and good movement

Overview of the California table grapes season by Chris Unti of Sun Grapes Marketing, complemented by charts from Agronometrics.  

Original published in on November 03, 2020 

Movement is steady on California grapes.

“Right now, supplies are still good. Fruit is coming in and it’s moving well,” says Chris Unti of Sun Grapes Marketing Inc. in Visalia, CA. “The weather has been fairly good. There’s no rain and people are planning on picking until early December.”

Volume (in LB) of table grapes from California in the US market
Source: USDA Market News via Agronometrics.
(Agronometrics users can view this chart with live updates here)

He adds that supplies are relatively balanced—not too overstocked but not short either. “In cold storage, there’s probably five to 10 percent less than at this same time last year but that’s not a bad thing. That doesn’t mean it’s short. It just means it’s moving better this year,” says Unti.

Meanwhile demand has been good for California grapes, which for Sun Grapes Marketing are coming from Bakersfield up to Madera, CA. “We’ve noticed that even with COVID-19, people are eating more grapes at home. There’s overall more at home eating because there’s less hospitality so demand has been steadier,” he says. Green grapes have been in slightly more demand and are moving more quickly. “We started doing bi-color Family Pack clamshells this year in Canada too and customers really enjoy that,” says Unti.

Slightly better pricing

As for pricing, Unti says it’s better than it’s been in the past few years.

Price (in USD) of table grapes from California in the US market
Source: USDA Market News via Agronometrics.
(Agronometrics users can view this chart with live updates here)

“Pricing is at a more sustainable level for growers and marketers. It’s good because customers are also still able to get the deals at the grocery stores and there are lots of ads that we see,” he says. Pricing started out fairly well and while red grapes held pricing steady for some time, pricing on that fruit has dropped somewhat in the last month. Green grapes have also seen pricing go down but it’s still considered good pricing. “In the next few weeks, it’ll probably go back up a bit as supply gets shorter,” he adds.

This given the challenges that produce growers have seen this year in terms of additional costs. “COVID-19 has been a struggle for a lot of people. Table grapes have had difficulty getting labor crews to pick and we’re all doing everything we can to keep our people safe,” he says. “And then with all the fires in California, costs have gone up a bit but we’ve been able to get by. But it hasn’t been easy.”

The News in Charts is a collection of stories from the industry complemented by charts from Agronometrics to help better tell their story.

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