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- Average cost of production outstripped the price at which milk was sold in the second quarter of 2012 and in many other months since improvement in 2011 after the significant losses experienced in 2009.
- The value of the California almond crop surpassed the state's iconic grape industry to move into second place, behind dairy.
- Cotton prices became less attractive, especially when compared to competing crops.
- A handful of large players continue to dominate wine-making in California.
A bright spot for the U.S. dairy industry in 2011: Exports increased significantly compared to 2010, up 12 percent for butter, 29 percent for cheese and 13 percent for powder, a trend that spilled into 2012.
• The crop value of California table grapes has continued to increase in recent years and has exceeded $1 billion each year since 2004, said Jeff Klitz, research analyst with the California Table Grape Commission in Fresno.
About 40 percent of the California table grape crop is exported to more than 60 countries, he said.
• A handful of large players continue to dominate wine-making in California. By volume, Gallo, The Wine Group and Constellation make up well over 50 percent of the market share, said Stan Xavier, president and CEO of Correia-Xavier.
Xavier pointed out an appearance by Joseph Gallo, CEO of the giant company, at the San Joaquin Valley Wine growers Association in November 2011 sent a message his company was expanding their production capacity and asking growers to contact Gallo regarding long term purchase contracts.
“It is clear we have seen the bottom of another cycle in the wine business,” Xavier said, “and we are now starting another leg up the expansion of that cycle.
Xavier said a “cheap is chic” temperament has encouraged importation of cheap bulk wine, mostly from the southern hemisphere and that does threaten to displace some of the lower priced California grapes that had regained market share since the start of the recession.
• The 2011 season marked the first California stone fruit season without the California Tree Fruit Agreement following the termination of its peach and nectarine marketing orders by the growers. The California Plum Marketing Board voted to go into dormancy in the fall of 2011.
As the 2012 season approached, said League Associate Director Sara Frauenheim, a severe hailstorm rolled through the Central Valley in April. The worst damage was in the Traver area, and from 10 to 15 percent of the stone fruit crop was destroyed.
With the close of the California Tree Fruit Agreement, the California Grape and Tree Fruit League has assumed an expanded role to include research facilitation, supplementary trade activities and crisis communication.
• Production for the 2012 crop of processing tomatoes is expected at 12.6 million tons, said Mike Montna, president and CEO of the California Tomato Growers Association. It will be the second largest crop California has produced.
Yields have continued to increase the past five years, he said, due to use of drip irrigation, varietal research and development and “continual improvement of agricultural practices.”
The CTGA negotiated a price of $69.40 per ton for the 2012 season.