“The market for first arrivals has been weaker than expected,” Chacon said.
“It looks like California stocks are having some effect on Chilean demand.”
Chilean grape exports in 2011-12 should break the previous record of 416,000 tons set last season, said Tom Tjerandsen, managing director for North America with the Sonoma, Calif.-based Chilean Fresh Fruit Association.
That’s nothing new: The Chilean industry has managed to top itself every year for the past several.
With plenty of product still coming in from Argentina and Brazil in mid-December, not to mention late-season storage fruit from California, there is no lack of grapes available for U.S. consumers this winter.
Despite that abundance of product, prices should hold steady throughout the Chilean deal, Tjerandsen said. Call it the fruits of a long education process.
“The industry has finally learned that if you have six shipments each day on both coasts, it’s going to impact the price,” Tjerandsen said.
“They’re doing a much better job of staging shipments to match demand. There’s been a recognition of the need to stage to ensure reasonable pricing.”
Another curb on oversupply, and subsequent buoy for prices, for the Chilean grape industry has been stringent standards for quality and size. If a customer expects a certain brix level and size, Tjerandsen said, he can be pretty sure of getting it, even from thousands of miles away.
“It’s not like they’re ordering 56s and getting 88s,” he said.
“The Chilean grape industry is kind of the poster child for enforcing vigilant quality for export.”