Fruit Prices Strong: Look For Higher Apples & Pears This Fall; Lower Oranges
Fresh Fruit Retail Prices Remain Strong According to data from the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the U.S. consumer price index (CPI) for fresh fruit in August 2012 was 334.6 (1982-84=100), unchanged from the same period a year ago and keeping the record as second highest for the month over the last 20 years . Gains in fresh citrus retail prices in August from a year ago were balanced out by declines in major non citrus fruits.
Specifically, retail prices were down for Red Delicious apples, bananas, strawberries, and Thompson seedless grapes. Grapefruit prices led the gains in August, increasing 17 percent from the same time last year, accompanied by slight to moderate gains in Valencia orange and lemon prices.
Although retail prices were down for Red Delicious apples, consumer prices for apples in general remained strong in August. BLS reported the CPI for apples at 371.9 (1982-84=100), up from 354.1 the previous month and from 337.7 in August 2010. Weakening of grape prices in August may be attributed to overall increased supplies thus far compared with last season due to the early harvest in California and the bigger volumes of imported Mexican grapes that have penetrated the market this season.
Banana retail prices have declined from year-ago levels every month this year since February due partly to higher imports through most of the first 7 months of 2012 compared with a year ago. Seasonally declining supplies helped strengthen strawberry retail prices in August from earlier this summer.
However, after supplies had fallen below year-ago levels in June and July, a turnaround in August helped retailers with strawberry promotions during the month, indicated by the month’s 5-percent lower average price compared with last year.
As summer ends, consumers are likely to see higher prices for apples and pears this fall compared with last year as retailers face tighter supplies due to reduced domestic production. The California navel orange crop, however, is forecast 6 percent larger than last season, increasing promotable supplies available for retailers this fall, likely driving down fresh orange prices.