Jerry Havel, director of sales and marketing for Nogales, Ariz.-based Fresh Farms, looks forward to an early start and a longer marketing season this year.
“We should be earlier than we’ve been in the past five years,” Havel said. “It’s been an unusually warm spring.”
Fresh Farms should receive its first Mexican green grapes of the season by May 1, if not earlier, and reds will likely follow about May 5. The company should be shipping both greens and reds in volume by May 15.
That means enough volume for Memorial Day promotions, something Fresh Farms hasn’t been able to do in recent years.
“We’re excited,” he said. “Last year they seemed to all come about the same time in June. This year will be more of a smooth, eight-week season.”
Instead of shipping about 15% of its Mexican grapes in May, this year could be closer to 30%, Havel said.
On April 1, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported prices of $24-26 for containers of bagged extra-large thompson seedless grapes from Chile, up from $16-18 last year at the same time.
Josh Leichter, general manager of Fresno, Calif.-based Pacific Trellis Fruit LLC, expected greens to begin shipping May 6-8 and reds May 8-10, slightly earlier than normal.
Pacific Trellis’s Mexican volumes should be up this year, thanks to new acreage, better yields on existing acreage and production from a new grower partner in Mexico’s Caborca region.
Green yields, however, could be off some, though growers were reporting good quality and size profile on both greens and reds, Leichter said.
Havel expects brisk movement out of the gate, particularly on greens.
“Demand should be very, very strong,” he said. “Chile is basically out of greens. Red demand should be good, too, depending on how Chile finishes.”
Leichter also looks forward to strong demand for Mexican grapes early this season.
“We’re not anticipating a large overlap with Chile,” he said. “We’re hoping for an orderly transition.”
Pacific Trellis expects to ship Mexican grapes up until the 4th of July, a typical ending to the deal, Leichter said.