The California prune crop looks promising this year as producers remain optimistic about favorable markets in the months ahead. As COVID-based restrictions ease up and markets begin to return to some level of normalcy, prunes are well-positioned for success. Favorable weather conditions back in March provided for a stable and consistent bloom, setting the stage for a good year for prunes.
“As of now, it looks like we have a good crop, we’re estimating it at about 75,000 tons which I would say with our current acreage is average, to above average,” said Donn Zea, Executive Director of the California Prune Board. “There is a little bit of an expectation that it could go a little above that but we’re going to wait and see.”
The California prune crop is in a good position based on the conditions of the global market. Zea said that there have been some crop failures in the southern hemisphere. Inclement weather during bloom also negatively affected production in France. “They look to have a fairly small crop as well. So, we’re holding a lot of the inventory globally for the next year and that bodes really well for California prune growers,” Zea explained.
PRUNES REMAINED STRONG AMID PANDEMIC
When COVID-19 became an overwhelming concern back in March of 2020, it immediately threw the food supply chain into turmoil. Market shifts created by school and restaurant closures caused significant issues for producers. As many commodities struggled, the market outlets for prunes remained relatively consistent. Prior to COVID, prune shipments were on an uptrend. There is optimism that the increased interest in prunes will continue moving forward.
“There’s no question that the focus on eating healthy, eating at home, etcetera, was an advantage for California prunes. People discovered them for the first time, or they bought more of them,” Zea noted. “Over the past year and a half with restaurants struggling so much, we do not have a large exposure in foodservice – although we’d like to – so it didn’t hurt us.”