Pandol Brothers’ John Pandol Divulges the Details of the Chilean Table Grape Season, Urges Buyers to Plan Accordingly

From And Now u Know | 7 February 2023

Overview of grapes from Chile in the U.S. market, complemented by charts from Agronometrics. Original published on February 3, 2023. 

DELANO, CA – Gear up for a big backside, retail buyers. No, I’m not making a play on the Sir-Mix-a-Lot classic (or maybe I am). Really, I’m talking about the opportunities in store for grocers as Pandol Brothers’ John Pandol, Director of Special Projects, clues me in on what buyers should expect of this year’s Chilean table grape season.

“The backside of the Chilean grape season will be big, concentrated, and heading mostly to North America,” John tells me as I pick his brain about the current market. “After three very abnormal seasons, the logistical logjam of 2022, heavy rainstorms in 2021, and COVID striking in Q2 of 2020, March and April arrivals from Chile will return to historic patterns.”

grape volumes by history 4

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

Pointing to recent conversations with Chilean growers, John tells me that there is a large, concentrated crop, especially of new variety reds, in the South. What does this mean for the buy-side, you ask? To put it simply, retailers should begin to plan promotions for the March, April, and May time frame—and in doing so, John advises that buyers avoid relying strictly on the last couple of years’ numbers when making decisions.

“As big data, AI, and algorithms become bigger parts of a retailer’s tool kit, the human memory part often gets de-emphasized,” John explains. “The tools report the ‘how much,’ but not the ‘why.’ Decision makers bowing to the algorithm is like sending a love letter that has only gone through spell check, but has not been proofread. Grape sales were down in the spring for the last three years because supplies were down. Chilean grape sales will be up this year, if and only if, the grapes get promoted like back in the 2010s.”

Another key part of the equation, as John emphasizes, is establishing prices that benefit both the grower and the buyer. Chilean grape growers, like farmers everywhere, have experienced increases in costs, with some items priced well beyond the average inflation rate.

“Using last year’s activity for price guidance today often results in red ink for someone. This trend is seen in other grape-producing regions as well,” John adds. “Ideally, the production side and the retail side will find their price equilibriums where everyone has black ink on their financials.”

Don’t just take my word for it. Follow the advice of this industry expert and watch your table grape sales climb.

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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