California Grape Shippers Look to Strong Finish; But Some Quality Issues May Exist

California Grape Shippers Look to Strong Finish; But Some Quality Issues May Exist

Good, consistent shipments of California table grapes are predicted well into December, although there are some concerns quality issues may arise.

While Pandol Bros. Inc. of Delano, CA doesn’t see any big gaps in supply for the rest of the California grape season, there is some angst regarding labor shortages at both the grower and retail level, which could have some negative consequences on movement.

At the farm level, farmers with too much of one variety maturing at the same time could be hard-pressed to pick the fruit in top condition if they don’t have sufficient labor.

From the retail end, Pandol reports some retail stores have a shortage of labor at the produce department level. If retailers don’t rotate grapes in the right way, then repeat purchases could suffer.

A retail clerk may stock the grape display in the morning, but if that display isn’t stocked again before the rush house, impulse purchases may be at risk.

Still, Pandol sees the outlook for strong California grape shipments with only slight variations from projected volume likely.

Columbine Vineyards, Delano, CA reports California grapes got off to a great early season start, but in mid season there were too many green grapes based on an accelerated harvest due to weather, and at the same time there were not enough reds. 

Looking ahead, Columbine Vineyards sees good volume with the red seedless varieties, and continued good volume with green grapes.

While the crop has good volume, the company is concerned about export logistics, materials cost, labor costs and water scarcity.

Exports may be down this year because of troublesome logistics at ports.

About 30% of California grapes typically go to export markets, and strong demand for air and vessel capacity has made exports more difficult.