Because of this season’s higher production to date for the Chilean fruit deal, markets have been noticeably lower.
In mid-January, Bengard reported f.o.b.s for two-layer cartons of Chilean nectarines at $6 for 60s, $8 for 50s and $8-10 for 40s. Usually, those prices don’t come until mid- to late February, he said.
Last year, the USDA reported Los Angeles f.o.b.s for Chilean nectarines at 40-42s $14-16, 48-50s $12-14 and 60s $9-12.
Grapes also continued to see lower than usual prices in mid-January. The USDA reported the following Los Angeles f.o.b.s for lugs of thompson seedless: extra-large $16, large $14, medium $12 and small $8-10. The same time last year, f.o.b.s were at extra-large $18-20, large $16-20, medium $14-18 and small $14-16.
Flame seedless extra-large were at $14-16 this season, compared to $20-22 the same time last year, according to the USDA.
Fulmer said most retailers had helped move the Chilean stone fruit and grapes through the pipeline via promotions. For example, some retailers have moved Chilean thompsons at 99 cents a pound, a price usually seen for California grapes during the summer.
But he said if growers misrepresent production ahead — and if U.S. retailers don’t have the opportunity to plan for promotions — it could leave a glut on the market.
“A short crop becomes long really quick,” Fulmer said.
Eastes said higher volumes to date for the Chilean grapes were largely due to the early production schedule. Some exporters who’ve completed harvest in the Copiapo Valley report normal crops to volumes 10% above average, he said.
Bengard said the last Chilean stone fruit arrivals are usually in mid-March. Around that time, Sonora, Mexico, begins exporting to the U.S., he said.