Harvest 2014 Update Newsletter
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2014 PRICE NEGOTIATIONS
The Raisin Bargaining Association Board of Directors and Management continue to firmly believe that this year’s Natural Seedless raisin crop is more valuable than last year. This outlook is based on the noticeably smaller yields that are currently being harvested, the large amount of acres that were bulldozed from the past season, and consideration of the significant increase in expenses this season due to increased drought and labor costs.
REGARDING INDEPENDENT GROWERS
While every season raises its own set of issues during the price negotiation process there is a factor that the Association has no control. That is when an independent grower delivers his crop before the field price is established and packers are allowed access to the fruit for processing. Not only does it delay the negotiation process but it also puts pressure on what will be the final price by reducing incentive to agree by packers who may need new crop to continue operating. In other words, a later agreement and lesser price can result from independent growers delivering their raisin tonnage prior to the setting of the RBA field price. Later and lesser pricing is not good for all raisin growers. If a RBA grower delivers his raisins before a field price exists it is held in Memorandum Storage and not available to packers until released by the Association. It would definitely be in all grower’s best interests for independent’s to hold their fruit or deliver under Memorandum Storage until the RBA field price is established.
FRESNO BEE ARTICLE
On August 16, 2014, the Fresno Bee printed an article regarding the start of this season’s grape harvest. Staff writer, Robert Rodriquez, reported that there was no pricing established for many of the grape varieties grown in the Central Valley including Thompson Seedless raisin-grapes crushed for juice and the outlook from the wineries looked questionable. Unfortunately he carried that outlook to the raisin industry even though he was made aware of the following reasons why the outlook for raisin growers appeared much better.
The Raisin Administrative Committee had just announced industry shipments were up 18% from the previous year and exceeded the amount of raisins delivered by the growers which leaves the industry in a balanced inventory position. Raisin-grape yields were being reported between 20-30% less than last year. Roughly 10,000 acres of raisin-grape vineyards were removed from the previous year limiting this year’s production capability as well. Also, grower expenses have continued to rise due to the drought which forced many groundwater pumps into operation. The energy costs to run the pumps as well as increased labor costs will be difficult to absorb by growers with reduced yields. All reasons why this year’s raisin field price justifies an increase from last year’s pricing.
If you missed the Summer 2014 Newsletter, please click here to view that newsletter.