Chilean crimson seedless imports: unfazed by April 10 marketing order date?

04/14/2011 01:19:14 PM
Tom Karst

Talking to a source in Chile the other day, he said that California's desert grape marketing order effective date of April 10 won't  reduce late season Chilean grape shipments.

If that was the intended effect, then that outcome may  disappoint those in favor of the earlier date.

When the effective date was April 20, he said exporters were in a tremendous rush to load grapes to arrive in the U.S. by that date. But he said the April 10 date was so early as to reset their thinking to other possibilities - namely better quality control for continued shipments of crimson seedless past the marketing order effective date.

So while volume will be greater after the the marketing order begins, quality should be improved.

While exporters in previous years may not have considered the possibility of repacking the fruit to make No. 1 grade minimum requirements, now they are. The Canadian market is also stronger than it used to be, which gives exporters the option of sending grapes there as well.

Here is a spreadsheet with U.S. imports of Chilean fruit for the past five years.

While last year Chile shipped 4 million cartons of grapes for arrival after the marketing order, this year the total could be closer to 7 million, the source told me.

The USDA reports that through April 9, U.S. imports of Chilean grapes totaled 780.5 million pounds, down about 1% from the same time a year ago.



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