From 8 September to 12 October the California table grape industry exported over 23m cartons, marking the most boxes shipped in this window on record.
“This year, unfortunately, there was a period of nearly three months when shipments to USDA were under-reported compared to prior years,” said Kathleen Nave, president of the California Table Grape commission.
“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.”
Due to the voluntary nature of USDA daily reporting, data collected is typically lower than the actual reported volume.
“It is pretty easy to add 22 percent to the last five weeks of USDA data and see why the expectation is that the shipments will have blown away industry actuals,” Nave said.
Grapes shipping into traditional export markets were down only eight per cent in total despite some trade tension, while Nave reported volumes increased to other markets including Australia, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, South Korea, and the Netherlands.
From September through to January, the industry typically ships around 60-65 per cent of its volume, according to Naver. Because of this, aggressive autumn promotions will be planned, and additional funding allocated to late-season product.
Major California grower, Sunworld, also reported a record crop for the season.