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FRESNO, CA — The Raisin Administrative Committee, here, at its annual meeting held Oct. 5, voted to discontinue the two-price system for export markets that "has been in place for many years for the purpose of stimulating world sales of California raisins and has always been 100 percent funded by California raisin growers," according to an Oct. 7 committee press release.

“It has been difficult during the past two years for the California raisin industry to maintain its two-price system for export markets as export sales have expanded” and inventories of natural seedless California raisins have declined, the release stated.

Graphs accompanying the release indicated that global raisin production dropped from its 2008 level of 1.104 million metric tons to 1.076 million metric tons in 2009 and 1.04 million metric tons in 2010, and is forecast do drop further to 1.018 million metric tons in 2011. Meanwhile, California raisin exports have risen from a 2007 level of 102,000 packed tons to 152,000 packed tons for 2010, an increase of nearly 50 percent.

There have been various reasons for the decline of world production, but that decline has created world market conditions that have driven raisin prices up to levels not seen in recent years, the release said.

The committee's estimate for the 2010 crop was 293,272 tons, according to an Oct. 8 press release from the Raisin Bargaining Association. According to that release, “California raisin sales for the fiscal year ending July 31, 2010, were extremely successful. Over 350,000 tons of natural seedless raisins were sold, leaving very little inventory going into the 2010 harvest.” The estimated 2010 crop, therefore, is not expected to be adequate “to meet current market demand.”

(For more on holiday dried fruit and nuts, see the Nov. 1, 2010, issue of The Produce News.)