Photo by David Castellon
Written by David Castellon
California’s table grape growers and packers have set a new five-week record for worldwide shipping.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture reports that 23 million boxes of grapes
produced in the state were shipped domestically and to other countries between Sept. 8 and Oct. 12, according to a press release from the California Table Grape Commission.
Though reporting on shipment data to the USDA is voluntary, most of the industry participates, so on a year-to-year basis the number of shippers reporting is very consistent, as is the data, Kathleen Nave, the Fresno-based organization’s president, states in the release.
“This year, unfortunately, there was a period of nearly three months when shipments to USDA were underreported compared to prior years,” her statement continues. “This caused confusion, as it appeared that with excellent quality and a large crop, the volume wasn’t moving. Once the reports were updated, two things became clear — volume was moving all along and the last five weeks set a volume record.”
Based on the retail promotions and advertising for table grapes lined up through the end of the season, the commission expects record volume weeks to continue.
Nave noted that while tariffs had impacted global markets, table grapes were shipping to all of the industry’s traditional export markets, and the latest USDA data indicates exports were down less than 8 percent through August.
She added that some markets have increased their volumes of California table grape purchases, including Australia, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, South Korea, and the Netherlands.
With 60-65 percent of the volume typically shipping Sept. 1 through January, Nave said planning for an aggressive fall and winter promotion schedule is the norm, but this year dollars have been added to the budget to support additional late-season retail promotions and extend consumer advertising reach.