( File photo )

The Prune Bargaining Association has voted to maintain the same price schedule for the 2018 as the 2017 crop.

A 23% drop in production resulted in the association holding the line on prices, despite trade and global market challenges, according to the Yuba City, Calif.-based Prune Bargaining Association. The association directors consider domestic and international market factors, supply and trade demand and average export volume and unit-value trends from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, according to a news release.

U.S. prune exports increased 11 in the first quarter of the 2018-19 market year, according to the USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service. California accounts for almost all U.S. prune production, according to the release, and growers have seen sharp declines in recent year. Exports in 2016 fell to 37,000 tons, from 43,000 the previous year, according to the release.

About half of California prunes are exported.

Exports to Hong Kong were down 35% and exports to Germany were down 21% in the first quarter of the new market year, but the board is optimistic, according to the release.

“California quality and consistency is attractive to the trade and to consumers,” Prune Bargaining Board President Ranvir Singh said in the release. “Customers are finding that other sources of prunes just don’t have the same quality they have come to expect from California.”