The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently released the state summary for the 2016 crop, illustrating the lowest raisin prices in more than 10 years.
Raisin Bargaining Association CEO Kalem Barserian has spent his entire life in the raisin industry and noted that historically, price market drops occur approximately every 16 years. “It collapsed in 2016, it collapsed in 2000, it collapsed in 1983-84 and so on and so forth,” said Barserian.
The total amount of tonnage that was produced for the 2016 crop was 335,893 tons, with growers receiving $1,081 per ton for their raisin grapes. The 2016 crop year reflected the lowest raisin prices since 2003 when producers were receiving $768 per ton after a sharp decline in prices for the 2000 crop.
An oversupply of raisins was the major contributor to such low prices. California packers were holding onto a significant amount of product from the time exports began to slow down and prices started to slide over the past three years. “With the world supply being about 100,000 tons higher than it needed to be, and with us carrying most of that excess, packers were reluctant to accept any price,” Barserian stated.
Raisin producers in Argentina, Chile, and South Africa were also growing more than what was necessary to meet demand. California growers also supplied an amount that exceeded the demand from the global market. “We were still producing about 325 to 335 thousand tons against a market that was only taking 300 thousand,” said Barserian.
Prices have already rebounded for 2017 but other issues are concerning producers this season. Stay with AgNet West to find out why.
Listen to the interview below.