2014 WINTER NEWSLETTER

November 17, 2014

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RBA Announces 2014 Natural Seedless Field Price

The Raisin Bargaining Association (RBA) Board of Directors is announcing the 2014 Natural Seedless field price will be established at $0.8875 per pound ($1,775 per ton). This represents a $0.0625 per pound ($125 per ton) increase over the previous year’s price. The RBA reached agreement with all twelve of its signatory packers: American Raisin Packers, Boghosian Raisin Packing Company, Caruthers Raisin Packing Company, Central California Packing Company, Chooljian Brothers Packing Company, Del Rey Packing Company, Fresno Cooperative Raisin Growers, Lion Raisins, National Raisin Company, Sun-Maid Growers of California, Sun Valley Raisins, and Victor Packing Company. The price will be based on the following formula:

Base price                                            $1,582.00                       $ .791

Moisture @ 10%                                          80.00                          .04

Maturity @ 75%                                           50.00                          .025

Container rental                                           21.00                          .0105

Transportation (minimum)                            15.00                          .0075

RAC assessment                                         14.00                          .007

USDA inspection                                          13.00                          .0065

2014 Announced RBA field price          $1,775.00                       $ .8875 per lb.

The MOU calls for growers to be paid in three (3) installments as they were last year. Initial payment of 65% will be due 15 days after completion of delivery or the release of delivered tonnage from Memorandum Storage. Second payment of 20% will be due on or before February 28, 2015. The final payment of 15% will be due on or before April 30, 2015. Packers may pay all their RBA growers in fewer payments with a shorter schedule if they desire.

Individual grower yields this season are significantly lower than the previous season. Today, there is general agreement in the industry that this year’s crop of Natural Seedless raisins will be less than 300,000 tons compared to the 365,000 ton crop, which over the last 12 months our packers have done a commendable job of selling and shipping the entire amount. Compared to the 20% crop reduction, the increase in this year’s price was a significant compromise taking into full consideration Turkey’s unusually large crop which caused their sultana price to fall. Packers are reporting challenging selling conditions into parts of Europe where sultanas control significant market share. Still, the RBA is giving the industry a crop clearing price because sultana berries are very small and will not work for a large percentage of loyal California raisin customers who specify larger berries, stricter growing and specification requirements, longer shelf-life, and superior flavor.

This will be a challenging year for the California raisin industry. Despite the higher price, growers will be receiving less revenue in total from this year’s harvest. Amid other challenges, growers must deal with continued increases in cost and regulation for labor and water. These issues coupled with other more profitable crop options, are forcing growers to evaluate how to maximize the use of their land and water resources, contributing to the escalating acreage reductions we have witnessed. For the past ten years, the state has reported a 2%-3% annual reduction in raisin-grape acreage that is now accelerating. Hopefully this year’s modest price increase will encourage California raisin growers to continue producing enough of the safest, most high-quality raisins in the world to meet yearly demand.

Letter from RBA Chairman Michael Kazarian

Dear RBA Members,

 

The Raisin Bargaining Association has negotiated the 2014 Natural Seedless raisin field price of $1,775 per ton. Based on this year’s limited production, the RBA Board of Directors was seeking a price of $1,850. We were unable to reach consensus on the higher price with our packers mainly because Turkey had harvested a record crop, increasing the world’s supply with marginal fruit quality, which had severely depressed European market conditions.

On the other hand, we are witnessing raisin grape vineyards being pulled out at record pace to make way for planting significantly more profitable crops. The raisin buying community must recognize it will take increasingly higher value to maintain an adequate supply of premium California Raisins in the future. This will only happen if we, as growers, stay united in our efforts.

Many independent raisin growers delivered their fruit before the price was established, limiting the strength of the RBA’s bargaining position. In the best possible scenario, independent raisin growers must hold their fruit until a price is established or deliver into Memorandum Storage, just like RBA growers. Better yet, they should join the Raisin Bargaining Association so we may work together for more sustainable pricing in the future. Thank you again for your support.

 

Sincerely,

 

Michael Kazarian, Chairman

2014 Zante Currant Price Offer

The RBA Board of Directors made an initial price offer of $1.00 per lb. ($2,000 per ton) for 2014 Zante Currant production. Packers shipped well over the 2,800 tons of 2013 production and have reduced the July 31, 2014 inventory to 1,858 tons from the previous year of 2,353 tons. While this is tremendous progress in one season, there is still inventory to meet the initial requirements to start this year’s marketing season. Greece has also reestablished its production over the past two seasons increasing the challenge to move California product into the European marketplace. This year’s initial price offer is $0.05 per lb. ($100 per ton) more than the 2013 Zante Currant price which is a 5% increase.

Packers will have until Friday, December 5, 2014 to agree with the Memorandum of Understanding for Zante Currants or offer their counter proposal.

Department of Labor Workshops

The Nisei Farmers League in conjunction with the United States Department of Labor will present seminars to benefit growers, packers, and farm labor contractors with MSPA, Fair Labor Standards Act, and Joint Employment regulations. The Raisin Bargaining Association along with many other agricultural commodity organizations are sponsoring the seminars. It is critical for anyone who hires workers or uses labor contractors to be informed of the standards that are being set by the agencies enforcing these regulations. Please make every effort to attend one of the following meetings:

 

Meeting for Growers & Packers

December 4, 2014 @ 9:00AM – 11:00AM

Fresno County Farm Bureau

1274 W. Hedges Avenue

Fresno, CA 93728

 

Meeting for Farm Labor Contractors (en Espanol)

December 4, 2014 @ 1:00PM – 3:00PM

Fresno County Farm Bureau

1274 W. Hedges Avenue

Fresno, CA 93728

 

Meeting for Growers & Packers

December 16, 2014 @ 9:00AM – 11:00AM

Tulare County Agricultural Commissioner’s Auditorium

4437 S. Laspina

Tulare, CA 93274

 

Meeting for Farm Labor Contractors (en Espanol)

December 16, 2014 @ 1:00PM – 3:00PM

Tulare County Agricultural Commissioner’s Auditorium

4437 S. Laspina

Tulare, CA 93274

New California Labor Laws as of January 1, 2015

The end of the Legislative session in Sacramento resulted in two additional labor laws that will take effect on January 1, 2015.

Mandatory Sick Leave will impact any employer who hires someone to work more than 30 days within a year.

Joint Liability for Temporary Employees will impact any grower utilizing a labor contractor. Starting in January, growers will be held jointly liable for violations committed by their labor contractor.

Click here to read about the new labor laws and how they may impact your operation.   Remember that these go into effect on January 1, 2015.  Click 2015LaborLaws to read summaries of how these new Labor Laws impact you.

2015 RBA Annual Meeting Date

The Raisin Bargaining Association Annual Membership Meeting will take place on Saturday, March 12, 2015. We will be meeting in the Valdez Exhibit Hall at the Fresno Convention Center. Make sure you keep that date open to meet with old friends and see what is happening in the California Raisin Industry. Meeting notices will be mailed to you in February 2015.

THE RBA BOARD OF DIRECTORS & STAFF WISHES YOU A HAPPY THANKSGIVING!