Contrary to the urging of many fruit traders and port interests, the USDA denied the request for an extension in the starting date for the California grape marketing order several days ago. Find that coverage here. I argued for pushing the date back a bit, but those who opposed what was called a humanitarian gesture argued that California growers shouldn't make the sacrifice alone for their Chilean counterparts, stating for example that importers should take a reduced commission and longshoremen a lower wage. That's a fair point, but in any case the earthquake and the uneven shipments sets up a rather interesting and potentially chaotic period for seedless grapes over the next few weeks. Be sure to follow the Twitter search for grapes here.
Check out the weekly shipments of all produce commodities at this link.
Find the USDA market news portal here.
If you ever need trade statistics from the USDA, go here to create a standard query from the USDA GATS Web site.
Quick hitters on grapes:
USDA reported season to date shipments on Chilean grapes were off 27% through mid-March compared with a year ago
The USDA retail report states only 458 stores were promoting Chilean grapes March 26 compared with more than 7,900 the same time a year ago. The average retail promotion price was $2.07 per pound, compared to $1.57 per pound the same time last year.
The f.o.b. for Chilean grapes on March 29 was as low as $8-10 per carton for amber green seedless grapes and more than $22 for some lots of crimson seedless. Prices at the same time last year were generally in the $12 to $14 per carton range.
January U.S. imports of grapes from Chile were valued at $171 million in January 2010, up from $142 million in January 2009. Volume of Chilean grapes imported was 78,000 metric tons in January, down about 3,000 metric tons from year ago figures.
The USDA National Fruit and Vegetable Retail Report showed the following summary of promotion activity:
Advertised Prices for Fruits & Vegetables at Major Retail Supermarket Outlets 03/20 to 04/01