This year’s feeding frenzy for Thompsons is a result of more than 85,000 acres of Thompson Seedless vineyards being pulled out in the past decade due to low prices and more attractive alternative crops like almonds. Although raisin prices are the highest ever, there is a fear more Thompsons will continue to come out with other crops still more attractive financially in more stable economic commodities than grapes.

This, coupled with strong domestic and export raisin sales, has put raisin packers in a precarious situation of needing more raisins to supply a solid market. For the marketing year just ended, packers shipped about 330,000 tons, including some carryover inventory needed to bid over buys immediately after the crop is dried.

“We have barely enough carry-in inventory to carry us into the new year,” said one major raisin packer. “It is now a truly supply-demand situation.”

The California raisin industry ships roughly 200,000 tons domestically and exports a little over 110,000 tons annually.

Markets are strong because places like Turkey and China have short crops and the value of the dollar is spurring raisins and all agricultural exports.