Hot weather anticipated to ignite Mexican table grape season


With temperatures finally due to approach the 100 degree mark in the Mexican growing regions this week, table grape suppliers are anticipating shipments over the border to dramatically increase. Cooler weather has persisted all spring in Hermosillo and Caborca and as a result, growers have reported a lack of sugar and color development. Shipments on all varieties have been slow but that is expected to change within the week.

Sources indicate that with such a heavy-set hanging, growers have been forced to thin their vineyards in an effort to force additional energy into the remaining bunches. The real challenge now is how Mexican growers will be able to manage the labor necessary to harvest 18 million boxes in six weeks. Additionally, USDA inspectors both newly trained and veterans, have been extremely critical in regard to meeting proper sugar levels on fruit entering the US

Spot pricing is currently higher than pre-committed program business. But it won’t take too long for volumes to catch up with those lower program FOB’s. For back to back seasons now, the inconsistency and erratic volumes have created a frenzied start to the Mexican table grape season.

Red seedless supplies diminishing
For the past few weeks, red seedless supplies from Chile have helped to sustain the market as buyers continue to await the Mexican season. However, it appears that this pipeline is now drying up and prices are starting to increase, especially on the spot market. Recent Memorial Day demand has helped to empty the reserves and now buyers are waiting for Mexican fruit to start arriving in greater volume, just like they are for the other varieties.

Marketers in Nogales are still waiting for Mexican Flames to enter the US market, but low sugar and light color has been delaying crossings now for two weeks. With only limited supplies in the marketplace, many retailers are starting pre-committed promotional ad periods with pricing ranging from $18.95-$20.95 FOB, but spot market pricing is significantly higher ranging from $24.95-$26.95 FOB. With such a spread between program and spot market business, the majority of the fruit will go to those willing to pay the most until overall volumes begin to pick up and meet the daily demand.

Supplies improving for green seedless
One of the varieties starting to see improved movement from Mexico is green seedless, namely Early Sweet and Perlettes. Prices are still high though as demand is strong. According to our source, prices are predicted to ease as volumes increase and become more consistent, which is expected during the month of June.

This past week’s FOB’s on Early Sweet ranged from $32.95-$36.95 with the mostly market at $34.95 and Perlettes traded from $28.95-$32.95 with the mostly market at $30.95. We can expect overall FOB pricing to adjust lower throughout the balance of the week, providing that growers can catch up on harvest schedules and the backlog of USDA inspections are able to flow in a more controlled fashion.

Mexican table grape marketers are still expecting to have promotable volumes of green seedless available in June with significant volumes all coming in very condensed fashion. We should see some aggressive pricing on Perlettes this week and most importers will try to hold the price of proprietary varieties a bit firmer.

Black seedless prices remain high
After a period of practically zero black seedless availability, supplies of Mexican Summer Royals are starting to trickle through Nogales and pricing is ranging from $32.95-$36.95. However, it will be another week at least until volumes will be sufficient to meet the current demand.

Major black seedless promotions are already in place with shippers not able to meet their commitments, which has put a tremendous amount of stress on the black seedless market,” Greenstein observed. Expectations are to see pricing remain firm through the balance of the week until better volumes begin to cross and we should see pricing settle into the mid $20’s by the end of next week.

Even Red Globe grapes are beginning to see an increase in price as Chilean arrival volumes start to slow. Red Globes of good quality are attracting higher prices this week. Pricing currently ranges from $16-$20 with size and quality being the determining factors.  With limited volumes of Mexican Flame Seedless crossing the border, retailers could look to add Red Globes as a color break to the shelves for the next 7-10 days.

By Fresh Plaza