‘Rain, rain go away…come again another day.’
Haunted by this tune in their sleep, Chilean grape farmers are longing to rock footwear besides rain boots these days. A deluge of rain in the last days of January has caused quite a fuss in the table grape market.
When the going gets tough: Water isn’t something farmers normally wish away. But when it’s too much, too fast, it can be a nightmare. In one 24-hour period, most of Chile’s grape crop saw nearly 4 inches of rain.
With harvest nearing, the white grapes took it hard. Up to 50% of the crop ‘split.’ And split grapes are a bit like spilt milk; not much you can do to save them.
Why it matters: Chile is the largest supplier of grapes to the United States. In 2020 over $600 million was traded between the two countries.
Bottom line: Unprecedented damage in one of the largest growing regions will tighten supply for the US import market. Rising prices are expected and could keep soaring as crop damage is fully assessed.