DRIED fruit producers will be hoping for improved yields and better quality to compensate for a drop in prices this season.
Sunbeam Foods, which buys most of the Sunraysia region's dried fruit, has warned growers to expect prices to be $200 a tonne lower than last year's record prices.
Sunbeam general manager of fruit supply Chris Ellis said the market had continued to soften, with prices for Turkish apricots down $US500 a tonne from a peak of $US2500, the Australian dollar continuing to remain strong and consumer sentiment in Australia remaining weak.
''Plus, the reality is the quality that's been there for the last couple of years has been testing us,'' he said.
''Even at those price levels, when we get (a good) season sooner or later that price drop would be mitigated.''
Mr Ellis said it was hoped growers would harvest similar tonnages to last season, although the sultana crop appeared variable ''as it often does''.
Other varieties such as sunmuscat, currants and raisins all looked quite good and raisins would continue to achieve good prices.
Sunbeam planned to advise growers of its final prices next month, he said.