The Raisin Administrative Committee (RAC) has received approval from USDA for its proposed export replacement offer program through April 30.

Upon receiving USDA approval for a partial 10 plus 10 offer, the RAC immediately offered 18,000 tons of reserve pool natural seedless raisins for use as free tonnage to raisin handlers, with the proceeds designated for reserve pool costs and support of raisin exports. In 2007-08, 142,541 packed tons were sold into export markets, not including Canada and Mexico, which was an increase of 40 percent over the previous crop year.

“We are excited to see such a significant increase in exports,” said Gary Schulz, RAC president. “As the demand for the superior quality of California-grown raisins continues to increase around the world, we will continue to propose export programs to meet the demand.”

Following the Raisin Bargaining Association announcement of a $1,310 field price at the RAC’s meeting last fall, the RAC established a trade demand of 273,863, a revised crop estimate of 313,231 tons, and interim percentages along with a recommendation to the USDA for final percentages of 87 percent free tonnage and 13 percent reserve tonnage last December. Currently, deliveries to handlers stand at 309,835 tons.

Each year, California Raisins are exported to 56 countries around the world and rank in the top 20 of California agricultural exports. Top raisin export destinations include the European Union, Japan and Canada.

Nearly 100 percent of all raisins produced in the United States are grown in California’s San Joaquin Valley, within a 60-mile radius of Fresno. More than 3,000 California Raisin growers produce over 300,000 tons of raisins annually.

The Raisin Administrative Committee (RAC), located in Fresno, Calif., serves the raisin industry under the provisions of the federal marketing order, which was created in 1949 and is overseen by the USDA. The 47-member Committee monitors acreage, production, quality control, an export program, and promotion and marketing research. Their efforts are funded by raisin handlers and the grower reserve pool. The RAC promotes raisin exports through the work of representatives in seven international regions.