Craig Padover, stone fruit category manager for Yonkers, N.Y.-based Jac Vandenberg Inc., said that while the Chilean peach market has been mostly solid this season, plums and nectarines have been more of a challenge.
“They were slow to get started, and then boom, we got hit” with large volumes, he said.
Nectarine volumes were about 10% below last season year-to-date in early March, Padover said. But plum volumes were up 10%, which compounded the problem of so much delayed fruit arriving at the same time.
“Put the two factors together, and it’s a challenging market.”
Peach volumes were down 10% compared to last year through early March.
Plums and nectarines should be highly promotable through March with the sudden influx of product, Padover said.
Aside from a two-week period in which plum markets fell on large volumes, 2013 has been a good year for Chilean stone fruit, said Angie Eastham, sales manager for Reedley, Calif.-based Pacific Trellis Fruit LLC.
“Demand has been really good this year, and prices have been pretty good,” she said.
On March 5, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported prices of $14-16 for cartons of two-layer tray packs of yellow-flesh peaches 40s from Chile, up from $12-14 last year at the same time.
Cartons of fortune plums 40-44s were $12-14, down from $14 last year.
The week of March 4, Steve Pearson, salesman for Los Angeles-based Bengard Marketing, reported good demand for peaches and fair-to-good demand for nectarines. Demand for plums should pick up the week of March 11 or March 18, he said.
Pacific Trellis expects to ship the last of its Chilean peaches and nectarines in March, with some plums likely to still be around in early April, Eastham said.
Pacific Trellis reported good quality on fruit shipping in March.
Padover also reported fairly good quality in the 2012-13 Chilean season. Jac Vandenberg expects to bring in late-season plums through April and possibly into May. Peaches and nectarines are expected to wind down in March.
Peach volumes will likely be lower this season for Bengard. As of March 5 they were comparable to last season or maybe slightly behind, Pearson said.
Nectarine and plum volumes from Chile also were comparable to 2011-12, he said.
Quality has been an issue on peaches and nectarines this season, Pearson said. Plums have fared better.
“We’ve had some good and bad arrivals” on peaches and nectarines, he said, citing maturity and decay issues.
Bengard plans to ship black plum varieties from Chile through April. Peaches and nectarines would likely wind down by the end of March.