Late start to Chilean deal keeps fruit on the move

01/11/2012 01:01:00 PM
Andy Nelson

Courtesy Jac VandenbergDespite a late start, Chilean stone fruit shipments in 2012 should be similar to the industry average in recent years, said Craig Padover, stone fruit category manager for Jac Vandenberg Inc., Yonkers, N.Y. A late start to the Chilean stone fruit deals has strengthened demand and kept product moving at a brisk pace, importers say.

“What’s coming in is going right out,” Angie Eastham, sales manager at Pacific Trellis Fruit LLC, Reedley, Calif. said Jan. 9. “It’s good for everyone, growers and customers.”

The plum market was particularly hot the week of Jan. 9, she said.

As volumes increase in January, prices will likely come down a little, Eastham said. Peaches and nectarines could settle in the $14 to $16-per-box range, and plums in the $18-22 range, she said.

On Jan. 10, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported prices of $18-20 for two-layer tray packs of yellow-flesh peaches and nectarines 48-52 from Chile, up from $14 last year at the same time.

Tray packs of earliqueen plums 50s from Chile were $24-26, up from $18.

Despite the late start, Chilean shipments in 2012 should be similar to the industry average in recent years, said Craig Padover, stone fruit category manager for Jac Vandenberg Inc., Yonkers, N.Y.

The mix of Chilean stone fruit this season, however, should change for Vandenberg, Padover said. The company expects to bring in more nectarines and fewer peaches and plums, he said.

“There are a lot of new nectarine varieties,” he said.

Nectarine volumes could be up 10% and plum and peach volumes down 10% for Vandenberg this season.

Evan Myers, stone fruit category director for Vancouver, B.C.-based The Oppenheimer Group, said peach, plum and nectarine volumes will be steady, and then increase to their typical levels toward the end of January as the first shipments from larger growing areas start to arrive on both coasts.

“The major growing regions in Chile enjoyed warm pre-season weather, which is among the many reasons we’re optimistic about the stone fruit season ahead,” Myers said.

Beginning in late January, Oppenheimer will offer retailers a new free-standing display unit for Chilean stone fruit, Myers said. The unit holds two boxes of fruit and features recipe tear pads and quick-response codes.

Padover hopes the phaseout of old varieties and pack sizes that retailers weren’t overly enamored with will ensure brisk movement this season, which has gotten off to a slower start thanks to a longer California grape deal and competition from other domestic fruits.

“Stone fruit really needs a push, and retailers should have an open mind,” he said. “There’s a stronger undertone to the market, (and we’re) hoping it continues.”

Eastham reports good quality with no arrival problems. Peaches and nectarines were peaking on 48s and 50s the week of Jan. 9, with more 40s and 30s expected as volumes ramped up later in the month.

Eastham expects Pacific Trellis to ship similar volumes of Chilean peaches, nectarines and plums in 2012 as in 2011. Peaches and nectarines will likely ship through mid-March and plums through April, she said.



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