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Grape market spring transition sped up by pandemic

Chile’s grape season is ending faster than normal due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but prices have stayed steady this spring.

Chile should be out of the market by early June, while Mexico’s crop should arrive in late May starting with green grapes and then reds.

VOLUME COMPARISION VS 2018 AND 2019

The volume trend is very similar to the previous years, with a downward trend in April due to the end of the season from Chile. This year the decline came earlier and was more pronounced due to the pandemic, said Raúl López, an agronomist at Agtools.

Blue Book has teamed with Agtools Inc., the data analytic service for the produce industry, to look at a handful of crops and how they’re adjusting in the market during the pandemic.

HISTORIC MARKET BEHAVIOR OF GRAPES DURING SUMMER OF 2019 (MARCH 1ST THRU AUGUST 31ST)

In 2019, the market during the spring-summer had three seasons, Lopez said. As seen in this chart, March and April are mainly supplied by Chile. Early May was a transition from Chile to Mexico and when Mexico’s season closed, Central California started producing during the first week of July.

This behavior is what we could expect to happen this year. With new crops coming over the coming weeks, the demand could increase.

F.O.B. PRICE IN LOS ANGELES TERMINAL MARKET FOR WHITE SEEDLES CONVENTIONAL GRAPE 18LB BAGGED CASE SIZE XL.

F.O.B. prices at Los Angeles Port for white seedless grape have increased since the pandemic started and have also been affected by lower available volumes, Lopez said. Prices are very similar to 2019. Since the second half of April the range has been $34-36. With the new crop coming over, we will see movement in the market.

MIAMI TERMINAL MARKET PRICE WHITE SEEDLESS GRAPES ORIGIN CHILE

Market prices have been very steady in 2020, he said. Jumbo size for this year has also been $34-36. Compared to 2019, price was in the range of $26-30 for the smaller product. Also, for 2018, prices were cheaper compared to 2020, when they were $30-36, but ended the season close to $40 per case. With fresher product about to come, prices are expected to change in upcoming days.

Greg Johnson is Director of Media Development for Blue Book Services