Alluding to light early season supplies from Chile, the Jan. 11 USDA fruit and vegetable retail report showed that 1,200 U.S. stores were promoting red seedless grapes at that time, down from more than 5,000 stores at the same time a year ago. Advertised prices for red seedless in early January were $2.69 per pound, up from $2.38 per pound a year ago. White seedless grape promotions were down from 2,885 stores last year to 1,895 stores this year. Ad prices for white seedless grapes were $2.81 per pound, up from $2.69 per pound a year ago.
Market sources say berries are small and early season volume has been below normal because of the cumulative effect of drought in some growing areas and untimely rain in other regions. Promotable supply of Chilean grape isn’t anticipated until February.
The USDA reported f.o.b. prices for Chilean perlette grapes in mid-January were $24-26 per carton, up from $14-16 per carton at the same time a year ago
Manuel Alcaino of Decofrut said that the industry in Chile expects overall grape export volume to be off 2% to 4% compared with a year ago. Alternative markets like Korea, Indonesia, China, Brazil and others compete for fruit with the U.S.
"The reaction of the American market to these reduced volumes will be the clue to the final results; if prices keep strong, as they are now, the reduction will obviously be less," he said in an email. He also said the behavior of "La Niña" will be very important to the ability of the market to keep strong prices, Alcaino said.
More backup: The USDA’s Fresh Fruit Annual Report on Chile , released In late October, acknowledged the challenges of the Chilean deal:
From the executive summary:
In spite of favorable weather conditions during this last winter months (Jun-Aug. 2012) with almost no frost in most growing areas and sufficient cold hours accumulated which should have a positive effect on budding to assures a good production, the industry predicts a harvest volume similar to that of last year (an unusually low harvest due to adverse weather conditions). As severe drought continues to adversely affect a large area of table grape production output is expected to be similar in volume than the previous year.