Weather challenges Mexican grape growers’ schedules - The Packer

Weather challenges Mexican grape growers’ schedules

04/19/2013 10:17:00 AM
Cynthia David

Courtesy Sun World InternationalGrapes bloom in one of Sun World International's Mexican fields about six to eight weeks from harvest. Uldarico Durazo, Sun World’s licensing manager, says the 2013 crop out of Mexico is looking better than last year in terms of the number and quality of bunches per plant.A cool January and February and erratic weather in March with unusual highs and lows could delay the start of the 2013 Mexican grape deal by about a week.

“Weather is the only challenge, as it has been in the past,” Dennis Christou, vice president marketing for Del Monte Fresh Produce, Coral Gables, Fla., said in late March.

Christou predicts volume will be around 16 million to 17 million boxes, slightly lighter than last year.

“In May, pricing and demand will be good,” he predicted.

“In June, retailers will have more volume to promote.”

Despite the later start, Tom Wilson, grape sales manager for Los Angeles-based The Giumarra Cos., expects to be on track for good quality and volume.

“We expect enough green seedless volumes for Memorial Day promotions, which takes place earlier than usual this year,” Wilson said.

“Red and black seedless will also be available but in smaller volume to allow a full display of seedless varieties,”  he said.

Peak volume for the spring season should load the last week of May and the first two weeks of June, Wilson said in late March.

The market for green grapes should be strong due to the lack of quality grapes from Chile, said Rudy Heras, category lead at Bakersfield, Calif.-based Sun World International.

Sun World expects a 15% increase in available volume this year, Heras said.

By late March, the 2013 crop was looking better than last year in terms of the number and quality of bunches per plant, said Uldarico Durazo, Sun World’s licensing manager, Mexico.

“Red grapes will depend upon the volume and quality of late crimsons from Chile,” Heras said, “and the black grape market should be strong.”

Pricing is looking strong for greens in the early season, he said, and about the same price level as last year for reds.

Marc Serpa, director of domestic grapes for Vancouver, British Columbia-based The Oppenheimer Group, anticipates the market for Mexican grapes will be strong right out of the gate.

“In fact, we expect demand to exceed supply for the last two weeks in May, due to a likely early wrapup of the Chilean season,” said Serpa, who works with growers in Pesqueira, La Costa and Caborca.

“We anticipate that Mexican grapes will be of high quality, good brix and uniform size,” he said.

David Espinoza, president of new Charlotte, N.C.-based International Fruit Co., the exclusive licensee for Chiquita brand fruit, expects production areas to remain about the same as last year, with around 28,000 acres between Hermosillo and Caborca.


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