The California prune industry is optimistic that 2020 will be a good year for production. Reports indicate that it will be a strong crop this year, with good yields and sizing. There are also industry efforts to foster international trade relationships to ensure California prunes remain competitive in the market.
“This year’s crop is a good one. We have, we think, somewhere between 90,000 and 95,000 short tons,” said Donn Zea, Executive Director of the California Prune Board. “It’s good; yields per acre were decent and the most important part is it’s right in the wheelhouse of our California premium positioning.”
With no significant weather issues and many concerns about water, the fruit size is expected to be within the desired range. Zea also noted that growers took significant care in shaking and thinning their crops to optimize the potential for good sizing. “When people buy prunes, they have a few choices and they know if they get California prunes, they’re going to get larger and sweeter prunes and that’s what we’re known for,” Zea explained.
REINFORCING INTERNATIONAL RELATIONSHIPS
The California Prune Board, which represents 800 growers and 28 handlers, is also working to ensure export markets remain vibrant for the California prune industry. While a trip to China had to be rescheduled due to the concern about the coronavirus, Zea noted that a group of growers will be going to Japan to further strengthen the relationship with buyers in the market. The trip to Japan is scheduled for March and includes stops in Tokyo and Osaka.
“For a long, long time Japan as an individual country has been our top market and we have 97 percent I think market share at this point,” said Zea. “No matter how fancy you can get in marketing, that communication face-to-face is so important and that’s what we’re doing here.”