More historical timing expected for California grape season

From Fresh Plaza | 24 June 2024

Overview of grapes from California in the U.S. market, complemented by charts from Agronometrics. Original published on June 24, 2024.

A smooth transition in grape production is anticipated between the end of the Coachella Valley grape season and the start of the sizable San Joaquin Valley season in California. “Coachella has diminished in volume over the years and there are now only about 2-2.5 million cases–they used to be 4-6 million cases,” says Philippe Markarian of Mirabella Farms.

Mexico is also approximately halfway through its grape season.

Production out of the San Joaquin Valley is set to start between July 10-14. “The crop looks to be decent and similar to last year in regards to volume,” says Markarian. “It looks like we have more normal timing than last year–we’re approximately 16-18 days ahead of last year. Last year was cooler and this year we have more normal weather patterns.”

The volume on Mirabella Farms’ varieties which include Flame, Summer Royal, Ivory, Timson, Allison, Passion Fire, Crimson, Scarlet Royal, Autumn Royal, Autumn King, Red Globe, and Sugarone also looks similar to last year. “A lot of the older varieties have been removed and replaced with newer varieties and I think that replacement is pretty much now in full force,” says Markarian.

grape volumes by history 1

Source: USDA Market News via Agronometrics.
(Agronometrics users can view this chart with live updates here)

New variety available

Mirabella Farms is also introducing a new variety this year, the Red Malibu Seedless–an extra large, thin-skinned, crunchy grape with a “meaty” texture that harvests largely between late August and late September. “We’re distributing these exclusively with a larger retailer this year,” says Markarian. The variety has gone through trials in recent years that proved successful so the grower-shipper has tripled its volume on the Red Malibu Seedless this season.

As for demand, it’s anticipated to be stronger than demand last year. “From what we’re being told, a lot of retailers are looking to put out a lot of ads and aggressive deals,” says Markarian. “Especially in trying to fight inflation, they’re trying to put deals in front of consumers so I think demand will be stimulated by that.”

That said, California particularly continues to contend with the higher costs of agriculture inputs such as labor especially but also materials, fuel, and more. Still, FOB pricing may be similar to last year if not slightly stronger towards the end of the California grape deal which is between October and December. Potential weather impacts may also factor into pricing at that time.

The News in Charts is a collection of stories from the industry complemented by charts from Agronometrics to help better tell their story.

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