2014 NATURAL SEEDLESS RAISIN FIELD PRICE INCREASE

By: Laurie Greene; CalAgToday reporter

The Raisin Bargaining Association (RBA) Board of Directors has announced the 2014 Natural Seedless Raisin field price has been established at $0.8875 per pound ($1,775 per ton), representing a $0.0625 per pound ($125 per ton) increase over last year’s price.

The RBA reached agreement with all twelve of its signatory packers:

  1. American Raisin Packers
  2. Boghosian Raisin Packing Company
  3. Caruthers Raisin Packing Company
  4. Central California Packing Company
  5. Chooljian Brothers Packing Company
  6. Del Rey Packing Company
  7. Fresno Cooperative Raisin Growers
  8. Lion Raisins
  9. National Raisin Company
  10. Sun-Maid Growers of California
  11. Sun Valley Raisins
  12. Victor Packing Company

 

The price will be based on the following formula:

Base price $1,582.00 $0.7910
Moisture @ 10% 80.00 .0400
Maturity @ 75% 50.00 .0250
Container rental 21.00 .0105
Transportation (minimum) 15.00 .0075
RAC assessment 14.00 .0070
USDA inspection 13.00 .0065
2014 Announced RBA field price $1,775.00

$ .8875

 per pound

According to a statement released by Glen Goto, RBA chief executive officer, the MOU calls for growers to be paid in three (3) installments, as they were last year, with an initial payment of 65% due 15 days after completion of delivery or the release of delivered tonnage from Memorandum Storage. The second payment of 20% will be due on or before February 28, 2015, and the final payment of 15% will be due on or before April 30, 2015. Packers may choose to pay all their RBA growers in fewer payments with a shorter schedule.

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.

Steve Spate, grower representative for the Raisin Bargaining Association, “This year’s price was definitely a compromise–one that may make make neither side happy. But, hopefully it will put us in a better position for next year.”

Despite the higher price, California raisin growers face a challenging year as they will receive less revenue in total from this year’s harvest. Price is not the only issue; 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, such as almonds, walnuts and pistachios, 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. Spate said, “The conservative estimate is at least a 10- to 15,000-acre loss of the natural seedless variety by early Spring 2015.  You don’t have to drive more than two miles in the Central Valley to see a pulled raisin field or one in preparation to be pulled.”

Goto hopes 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.

 

 

Mark your calendars!

The 48th Raisin Bargaining Association Annual Membership Meeting

March 14, 2015
Location TBD
10:30 AM with luncheon to follow

After Tough Negotiation, Raisin Price Decided

Raisin Price Set At $1650  Per Ton

 

More Thompson Seedless Vineyards To Be Pushed

 

The Raisin Bargaining Association (RBA) announced that it has reached agreement with its signatory packers on the 2013-14 Natural Seedless raisin harvest announced field price.  The price will be one thousand six hundred fifty dollars ($1,650.00) per ton or eighty-two and one half cents ($0.825) per pound.  The price is calculated using the following formula:

         Base price                                $1,457.00                      $0.7285

         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

         2013 Announced RBA field price     $1,650.00 per ton  $0.825 per lb.

Raisin growers have sent a strong message to the industry that they prefer selling raisins on a 100% basis now and into the future.  With that in mind, the Board of Directors of the Association worked diligently toward a compromise with their signatory packers to establish a fair price that reflects the additional California raisin production for this season. 

The Raisin Administrative Committee (RAC) recently estimated the 2013 Natural Seedless raisin crop at 348,437 tons in comparison to deliveries of 311,090 tons last year.  The $1,650 per ton price for the 2013 Natural Seedless raisin crop is a 13% reduction to last year but takes into account the additional crop that is estimated for production as well as the challenging market conditions that the industry will be facing.

The agreement calls for growers to be paid in three installments this year as opposed to four installments last season.  65% of the payment will be due fifteen (15) days after completion of delivery, 20% will be due to growers on or before February 28, 2014, and the final 15% will be payable on or before April 30, 2014.

raisin character

In the past, grower reserve raisins generated funds to assist the industry in marketing additional production into world markets.  The effort to sell this year’s additional production without reserve programs and the temporary elimination of state marketing and promotion funding are two reasons why the RAC assessment of fourteen dollars ($14) per ton has been included in the pricing formula.  This will provide an opportunity for the industry to work together through the RAC in support of efforts to market 100% of each year’s crop without reserves.

As reported from the International Dried Grape Producing Countries Conference in October, there continue to be strong indicators that Turkey has a significantly smaller dried grape crop to market this coming season.  California and Turkey are the two largest producers of dried grapes in the world.  It was also reported that South Africa, Chile, and Argentina have suffered tremendous frost damage in their vineyards, which will severely limit their harvest, which begins in January. The ability to take full advantage of what appears to be a tremendous sales opportunity requires an announced field price.

The Raisin Bargaining Association Board of Directors understood the importance of establishing this important benchmark in a timely manner to sell the maximum amount of raisins this year.  However, they are also well aware of the impact it has on the grower community.  Labor, water, and energy costs have significantly increased for growers over the past twelve months further squeezing their bottom line margins.  As agricultural resources in California are depleted, vineyard owners will continue to seek the best utilization of their land. 

California Ag Today editors spoke with Steven Spate, an RBA Grower representative, and a raisin grower. He said: “We are witnessing a large amount of raisin grape vineyards being removed (between 8,000 and 15,000 acres) from production this year in favor of more mechanized and profitable crops such as almonds, walnuts, and citrus.” 

“Time will tell what impact this acreage reduction will have on the future of the California raisin industry but taking the necessary steps to market this year’s crop was extremely important for the Raisin Bargaining Association to accomplish.  We are now counting on the California raisin packers to sell this crop to provide a better future for the remaining growers in our industry,” Spate said.

Spate added that processors thought the price should have been lower, but growers generally thought that shortages in Turkey and other areas should have boosted the price. “But still, there are excess raisins on the market and it has created a downswing in price.

Growers who are pushing out vineyards say that the lower price is only one factor that is in play. Chronic labor shortages are also encouraging growers to plant a less labor-intensive crop.