from the office


6/19/2018                                                                                                                                                                               9:30 a.m.


Letter from Kirby Jackson - Lion Raisins Grower Relations

Dear Grower,

We have another season coming up soon.  For now everyone should be aware of the powdery mildew threat until the first week of July.

I am sure that  you are aware of the small size of our 2017 crop.  This small crop along with an average size crop this year is sure to bring a minimum price of $2,200.00/ton for raisins, $325.00 delivered to winery and around $335.00 delivered for dehydrator grapes.  Taking all this into consideration, higher prices and all, most raisin packers will want to pay their growers with as many as 3 to 4 delayed increments.  Just to let everyone know, Lion will pay one payment 100% to our growers.  If you have any friends looking for fast payment, please call me, we will be taking on new growers to replace pulled vineyards.

Another subject you should be aware of.  There are four RBA signatory packers reprocessing import raisins for certain domestic end users.  The concern is if our domestic market becomes too comfortable with these foreign raisins, it could cause a surplus in our domestic market causing a drop in field price for our California raisins.  I suggest you contact your RBA director in your area and voice your concern, so they might consider putting some pressure on this behavior by these packers.  Lion Raisins does not approve of this marketing behavior being practiced by certain packers since we are also growers ourselves and are concerned for the future of our industry.

Please contact me anytime if I can answer any of your questions or be of any help to you during the season.

Kirby Jackson - Grower Relations - Lion Raisins

5/23/2018                                                                                                                                                                               6:36 P.M.


Letter from LindaKay Abdulian - National Raisin Company

I make it a point daily to talk with a variety of raisin growers throughout the San Joaquin Valley in an effort to gain their perspective on what would make them feel comfortable with keeping their vines in the ground.  You learn a lot when you talk with a raisin grower, not only will they freely tell you their perception of our industry, you get a good sense of their financial situation, attitude regarding agriculture in the Central Valley and California in general.  Growers want a fair price, "plus some" for their crops, they want to be paid 100% for delivered passing fruit, they want to be paid in a timely manner and they are searching for stability in the raisin industry. 

I would always end our conversation...asking...besides a fair price (which is important)...what leadership did they want to see come from National?  The number one comment was...National needs to set a two year floor price, this action would bring the much needed stability and direction that is lacking in the raisin industry.  Growers overwhelming view these past years the price and downs...unfavorably. 

This year National has begun the dialogue offering growers a $2,000 per ton minimum price for both 2018 and 2019 crop years.  This is not the final price but a floor meaning that if the industry and RBA's 2018 crop price is established at $2,100 per ton then National will pay its growers $2,100 per ton.  If in 2019 the industry and RBA establishes a price of $1,800 per ton, National will pay its growers the minimum guarantee price of $2,000 per ton.  A grower must sign a two year contract with National to receive the guarantee minimum price, in addition when a grower signs up for the two year contract they will receive a signing bonus.  National has kept all the moisture, maturity, container rental, transportation, RAC assessments, USDA inspection fees, amounts and formula tables unedited...same as last year.  Please note, if any modifications, additions or deletions regarding industry assessments are approved, National will adjust its schedules accordingly. 

My hope is that the 2018 crop year price will be established sometime early to mid-September and that it will be inclusive of all market factors: the domestic balance of supply and demand, the world supply of raisins, imports, the strength of the US currency and the strength and security of the California raisin grower.  Balance and perspective is key.  I am available for any questions please feel free to call me at anytime. 

LindaKay Abdulian - President and CEO of National Raisin Company


4/20/2018                                                                                                                                                                               9:23 A.M.


Any RBA Grower interested in purchasing bins through the RBA Bin Program can contact Cheryl at the RBA Office (559-221-1925) for more information. 





12:27 P.M.



9:15 A.M.


When we issued the RBA “Press Release” dated October 12, 2018 it was still uncertain on how many tons of Natural Seedless Raisins would be made. As of March 31, 2018 195,078 tons had been delivered and passed incoming inspection by the USDA. There are 19,272 tons held for reconditioning, which at best will recover 80%. We now believe the crop deliveries will be 220,000 tons plus or minus 10,000 tons. For more information; contact Kalem Barserian at (559)-221-1925



11:30 A.M.

RBA chairman encourages cooperation among growers and packers

Raisin growers and packers urged to find areas of cooperation, more unity.

 Charanjit Batth, left, a Caruthers grower, with the Dancing Raisin and attorney Tom Campagne at the 51st annual meeting of the Raisin Bargaining Association.

Charanjit Batth, left, a Caruthers grower, with the Dancing Raisin and attorney Tom Campagne at the 51st annual meeting of the Raisin Bargaining Association.


Dennis Pollock 1 | Mar 14, 2018

In a rare gesture aimed at fostering unity, Raisin Bargaining Association Chairman Dwayne Cardoza welcomed representatives of several packers to the 51st annual meeting and recommended better cooperation between packers and growers.

“We need to get this community back together,” said Cardoza to the conference, which represents 1,500 grower members.

He acknowledged that packers, through the years, were often at odds with the organization.

In a question and answer session, packer Dennis Housepian, president of Caruthers Raisin Packing Co. Inc., said, “This industry has to pull in the same direction.”

Cardoza asked all the packers in the room to stand. “Those are the guys that write the checks,” he said as they stood. “These are our guys.”

At 80, Kalem Barserian, general manager and CEO of the RBA, is no stranger to the challenges of arriving at a field price in negotiations between packers and growers.

Barserian worked on the processing side with various packers for 30 years. He also headed the RBA from 1969 to 1987, and the organization sought him out a year ago to step into a stalemate on pricing for the 2016 crop.

Record Price Expected

At the Fresno meeting, both Barserian and Cardoza predicted that this year’s crop could command a price that will top the previous record of $1,900 per ton in 2012.

The 2017 crop price was set at $1,800, well above the 2016 price of $1,100, blamed on a 20 percent uptick in world production.

In a press release, Barserian said, “Despite this price being the second highest in history, there will be no winners.”

He pointed out that the 2017 crop had one of the lowest grape bunch counts in history. A severe heat wave burned green bunches on the vine, destroying 5 percent of the crop. And two rain storms brought millions of dollars in losses.

In his opening remarks at the RBA meeting, Barserian pointed out that per capita consumption of raisins has declined since 1967, the year the RBA was started. It dropped by 33 percent, from 1.33 pounds to 1.16 pounds today.

The California industry has gone from 50 percent of world production to 20 percent.

“But there are opportunities,” Barserian said. “We’re starting over again, just like we did in 1967.”

The number of growers has shrunk from 4,000 to 1,800. Acreage went from 280,000 at its peak to 155,000. Last year alone, some 10,000 acres of grape vines were pulled out of the ground.

 Some raisin growers hold other jobs, and many have diversified. To sustain themselves, some have turned some of their acreage into nut crops.

From 2010 to 2016, average production was 328,000 tons. “We’re still in a surplus situation,” Barserian said.

Short Crop

But he projects 2017’s crop will be no more than 230,000 tons, the shortest crop since 1982 when production stood at 205,000 tons.The RBA membership is down from 2,200.

“We were producing the same amount of tonnage 51 years ago that we are producing this year and probably will produce for the next five years, maybe even 10 years; I see it as under 250,000 tons,” Barserian said.When Barserian first got into the industry, half the raisin variety grapes were going to wineries. In 1967, wineries crushed 615,000 tons. This year they crushed 94,000 tons.

Among bright spots in the industry’s history is the export relationship with Japan, where raisins are used as a cooking ingredient rather than a snack. The industry has fostered Japanese development of new product uses, and Japanese imports of California raisins have more than doubled since 1967. Barserian said he would like to work with Fresno State University’s culinary program to establish a faculty position and foster other product development efforts. But he said that “will be a while coming.”

Cardoza and Barserian talked of efforts to find more dried-on-the-vine varieties that could open the door to increased mechanization during pruning and harvesting. The industry is working with International Food Genetics in Delano on that effort.

The RBA membership is aging. The average age is in the 60s.

Cardoza, 65, hopes to give his 29-year-old son, Steven, more of a leadership role.

He emphasized to members that they should look for ways to bring younger people into the industry, perhaps through leasing agreements and in other ways.

Cardoza also praised the attitude of younger people when it comes to responding to the Food Safety Modernization Act. “Yes, it’s bureaucratic,” he said. “But young people are saying, ‘How can we benefit from it?’ We’re doing something (other nations) are not doing.”

9:00 A.M.


If you have or know of any raisin growers who have used bins and wish to sell them, please contact the RBA office.
(559) 221-1925

3:00 P.M.



1) This MOU concerns the 2017 harvest season only.

2) Regarding the 2017 Natural Seedless Raisin Harvest:

The announced RBA field price per free ton on delivered 2017 Natural Seedless Raisins will be $.90 per pound or $1,800.00 per ton. Price includes the following payments of:

Base price                                                      $1,604.00                         $.8020

Moisture @ 10%                                                    80.00                          .0400

Maturity @ 75 %                                                   50.00                          .0250

Container rental                                                    21.00                          .0105

Transportation (minimum)                                   15.00                          .0075

RAC Assessment                                                     17.00                          .0085

USDA Inspection                                                   13.00                          .0065

2017 Announced RBA Field Price                  $ 1,800.00                       $.9000

3:42 P.M.

 the year was 1985

                             Pictured below from left to right; Kalem Barserian, Bruce Lion, and Ernest Bedrosian. 

kalem and bruce.jpg

The year was 1985 and the three were in Asia selling California Raisins. Today the Asia nations are our most reliable customers with Japan consuming 64 million pounds and holding a 90% share of all dried grape consumption.

2:07 P.M.


The RBA management is pleased to announce that a majority of the Signatory Raisin Processors have agreed to an "Announced Price" of 95 cents per pound for the 2017 crop of Zante Currants. Even though this price is only the third highest in history, the Zante production was normal. Also the beginning inventory (8/1/17) was 1,666 tons versus 3,093 tons shipped into all markets last year, we believe they are balanced. If you have any questions please call the RBA office (559)-221-1925

10:18 A.M.


4:57 P.M.


National Raisin Company has agreed to the RBA's Announced Price of 90 cents per pound for the 2017 crop. We wish to thank the Management team at National who has been a mainstay in the California Raisin Industry for so many years and who has provided crucial leadership on pricing to our valuable customers worldwide.

With probably the shortest raisin crop since 1982, the challenge is to market this crop and get ready, when growing conditions return to normal in 2018.

Once again, the RBA extends thanks to National Raisin Company for agreeing to the field price of 90 cents per pound.

10:22 A.M.


Sun-Maid Growers of California have agreed to the RBA's Memorandum of Understand (MOU) at the 2017 announced RBA Field Price of 90 cents per pound. I wish to thank the Sun-Maid Board and their President Barry Kriebel for the support they have given RBA over the past 30 years. Barry has announced his upcoming retirement and we wish him the best of health and happiness. 

Kalem Barserian,CEO

3:52 P.M.


Even though Central California Packing Company had given me their verbal commitment over the weekend, accepting the RBA's Announced price of 90 cents per pound, now it's official. Thank you Central Ca. in helping to get the marketing year started.

3:04 P.M.


Today is Sunday, October 8, 2017. Two of the largest California Raisin Processors, Lion Raisins and Sun Valley Raisin Company have agreed to RBA’s terms and conditions calling for an Announced price of 90 cents per pound. Just one year ago the Industry was in a conciliation setting and it took to March 7, 2017 to finally bottom the bankrupt price of 55 cents per pound to the grower and a huge loss to the Processors when their inventory fell from 80 cents to the low of 55 cents. Again thank you Lion and Sun Valley for helping get the marketing of the 2017 crop started in October. Thus allowing the crop not to be placed in Memo Storage and growers to get cash in their pocket on completion of delivery. Call Kalem at the RBA office if you have any questions.

7:00 P.M.


Thank you Fresno Cooperative Raisin Growers, Inc. for being Signatory Packer #7 to sign the RBA MOU terms and conditions at 90 cents per pound!

12:15 P.M.


This morning Caruthers Raisin Packing, Inc. became the 6th signatory packer to agree to the terms and conditions of the RBA's MOU set at 90 cents a pound. Dwayne Cardoza, Chairman of the RBA, and 1st Vice President Jerry Rai assisted staff in the conclusions of these negotiations. So far six processors have agreed to the terms and conditions of 90 cents per pound, and four additional processors have verbally committed to the 90 cent price.


9:30 A.M.


This morning two more Signatory Packers have agreed to our Announced price of 90 cents per pound.  River Ranch Raisins, LLC and Chooljian Brothers Packing Company, Inc. So far that brings five Processors who have agreed to the Announced price of 90 cents per pound and another five who have given us a verbal commitment.

3:11 P.M.


Our third signatory packer just agreed to our announced price of 90 cents per pound. Boghosian Raisin Packing Company just notified me that he has also signed our 2017 MOU. Any questions please call Kalem at (559) 779-9578 or the RBA office. (559) 221-1925

3:00 P.M.  

Attention RBA Raisin Growers:

Our second Signatory Processor Del Rey Packing Co. has also agreed to terms and conditions for the 2017 crop at the announced price of 90 cents per pound. RBA Board of Director and First Vice President Jerry Rai was also instrumental in closing the contract with Del Rey.

"Also I left out of my first announcement on Victor that E.G. Huter is our second vice president. Those Board of Directors that are assisting management on the calls we are making helps more than anyone can imagine."

-Kalem Barserian 


11:00 A.M.

Attention rba Raisin Growers:

     Yesterday Raisin Processor Victor Packing of Madera was the first RBA Signatory packer to agree to terms and conditions for the 2017 crop at an announced price of 90 cents per pound. RBA Board of Director E.G. Huter was instrumental in closing the contract with Victor. Thank you all for getting this done.