Grapes, Tree Fruit and Citrus Market Report July 11 to July 17
Mexico is virtually done on quality fruit, as the transition is on full force into Central CA. This will firm the market on FOB’s, as Central CA growers just start picking up volume on red seedless grapes in the south Valley. Only a few early premium varieties harvesting, but 99% of current harvest will remain Flame seedless for the next 3 – 4 weeks. Quality looks good, even considering June rains. Size is on par with a typical season on Flame, as we see larger sized berries coming on with the start of other varieties in August. Now is the time to start promoting the crop and carry through December.
Mexico is also coming to a finish on green seedless. Only a few Sugraone and Sweet Globe remain left to ship. This has allowed for a smooth transition into Central CA, with limited supplies already starting to pick. Sugraone and Ivory are first out the gate, with harvest ramping up slowly but looking to hit better volume this week. FOBs have remained high due to the quick Mexico finish and lighter volume out of the field currently… but that will pick up as more vineyards come online. Quality is strong, sugar levels are slowly increasing.
The last of the black seedless crop remains in Mexico, but quality concerns are turning buyers away. Central CA has started, at higher FOB’s, but quality is expected to be cleaner and stronger to support retail promotion. Summer Royal is the first variety out of the gate in CA and will carry for another 3 – 4 weeks. Make the transition now.
Red globes remain very limited out of Mexico. Also, with the rest of the varieties finishing harvest / shipping, this created a logistic issue of getting only Red Globe out of Nogales or adding cost into crossdocking and consolidation. Expect FOB’s to remain very high due to demand and fear of the crop running out short before CA starts. Central CA is not expected to pick Red Globe in any volume until mid-August, so prepare for a gap period possibly.
Tree Fruit – Imports
The lower volume on the East Coast peach crop is having reverberating effects on the Central CA harvest. Yellow peach is low on availability and seeing heavy demand from across the country, keeping FOB’s very high through the entire season. Production is also lighter than expected, fulling a feeding frenzy that is keeping inventories pretty clean. We still have some big volume varieties to go in July and August that will help meet demand. White peach is picking on Summer Sweet variety, but like the yellow peach, a gap has created a lack of supplies as well as heavy demand. Avoid white peach promos for now.
Nectarines continue to see very good demand, just like yellow peach. But better production from the field is helping it hold water better in this market. Grand Bright yellow, with Honey Royale starting. White nectarine is seeing the peak of the Kay and Majestic Pearl varieties. Focus on nectarines, as it is in a better position to sustain ad volume. Continue to promote nectarines along with peaches, but expect to see a better stability in nectarine supplies over the next 2 months.
Done for the season, outside of some proprietary special varieties at high FOBs.
Plums / Pluots
Black plum will transition between varieties, but still have moderate supplies in the system to cover business. Same thing on red plum through variety transitions that are typical in July and August. Lighter set and February freeze have helped to keep demand high and availability light most of the season. Expect to see record breaking FOB’s for the remainder of the crop to help quell demand and reach an equilibrium point.
Clementine supplies have leveled out slightly, with volume finally starting to increase from both Peruvian and Chilean arrivals. Add Uruguay and Argentina into the mix on the East Coast. This slight bounce in arrivals will help bring some fruit online into what has been a great demand-exceeds supply market over the last month. With that said, Chilean estimates are reported to be off over 40% lower from previous seasons due to freeze and lower crop volume. This should have reverberating effects through most of the season. Even if we see more fruit in the pipeline and FOB’s start to adjust, there may still be arrival gaps or tight supplies during various points of the season, especially during the variety transition in August and September into the Murcott variety from Chile.
Navels continue to remain a problem child. Limited arrivals of South African to the East Coast have not been enough to meet demand, same thing with limited Australian fruit arriving. The first Chilean fruit of the season is expected to arrive to the West Coast this week, pending vessel release. This fruit will be entering an empty pipeline with the crop expected to remain demand-exceeds until at least late July / early August when arrival volume finally peaks.
Chilean and Argentinian lemons will make up the bulk of the arrivals in the US, with Chile finally underway in arriving with volume to both coasts. This will bring more lemon availability into the pipeline, even during a depressed CA market. But District 2 will finish in CA and this should help to firm pricing and increase movement on import lemons to fill the gap. Expect to see a bump in demand in late July / early August once the focus is solely on imports and not split between COO. Also, Chile is expected to be down 10 – 12% compared to historical averages and that drop may increase once freeze damage is assessed. Now is the time to start promoting, though.
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