Late season boom for California grapes

11/20/2013 02:08:00 PM
Tom Karst

USDA reports the number of U.S. retail stores promoting red seedless grapes on Nov. 15 this year was 11,940, compared with just 6,759 stores at the same time a year ago. White seedless grapes were on ad at 5,421 stores on Nov. 15 this year, way up from 2,830 stores the same week last year.

California grapes are clearly throwing their weight around and USDA statistics show weekly shipments of California table grapes in mid-November were running at 3.7 million boxes, 800,000 boxes per week more than a year ago and 500,000 cartons per week more than two years ago.

Taking advantage of favorable harvest conditions, Eastes said that California table grape shipments this season may blow past 110 million boxes after reaching the lofty 100 million box summit last year.

 The new reality of increased volume of table grapes offered to consumers in the third and fourth quarters from California will bump up against not only Southern Hemisphere winter season suppliers of grapes, but also marketers of competitive fruits like citrus, apples, pears and more. Promotions will be more difficult to secure with 15 million more cartons of California seedless grapes in the supply pipeline.

As if that is not enough change, Eastes said USDA grape breeders have developed a white seedless variety called Valley Pearl that is expected to grow early season California volume over the next few years.

More thoughts from Eastes in upcoming grape coverage, but suffice it to say he has identified a trend the entire universe of fruit marketers need to pay attention to.

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