Dan GalbraithJuan Laborin, director of AALPUM, the Sonora grape growers association, examines the early progress of red globe grapes April 26 during a tour of grape operations on the first day of the Sonora Spring Summit 2012. HERMOSILLO, Mexico – High volume and high-end quality Sonoran grapes, coupled with a later-than-usual Memorial Day, should translate into loads of retail promotional opportunities, sources say.
Chatter and informal projections April 26 about export volumes in the 17 million to 18 million box range pervaded the first day of the Sonora Spring Summit 2012. After an estimated 150 growers, shippers, marketers and importers toured three grape operations April 26 in anticipation of the April 27 official crop estimate, many said they expect a volume estimate that would be on the high end of normal for the Sonoran crop. The crop also looks to be on time, or possibly even a bit early.
Timing of this year’s Sonoran grape deal may seem early because “the last couple of years have been later than usual,” said Jim Pandol, president of Delano, Calif.-based Pandol Associates Marketing, but he expects this year’s crop to be actually normal for the deal.
“The good news is the quality seems to be there,” he said. “More good news is that Memorial Day comes late this year, so Hermosillo volume will be going full bore by then and there should be plenty of product for retail promotions.”
In fact, Pandol said, the smartest involved in the Sonoran deal are already coordinating solid retail promotional efforts for the week before Memorial Day and blockbuster deals for the week of Memorial Day, which is May 28. That date is actually a couple of days earlier than it has been the past two years but is the latest Memorial Day will be until 2016, when it falls on May 30.
The trickiest part for Sonoran growers, however, could be finding their way to maximum profits since volumes for their six-week window will meet some competition from Coachella, Calif., product, which could also see high volumes as well as a normal or slightly earlier-than-normal start to its deal. The danger, Pandol confirmed, is the possibility that f.o.b.s could be lower than grower-shippers hope for.
Coachella, in fact, could account for up to 9 million boxes of grapes, Pandol said. Then there’s San Joaquin Valley grapes, which will also soon enter the market.
Another part of the profit equation centers on how receptive retailers and consumers will be to incoming product after a disappointing denouement to the Chilean deal.
“Chile’s late-season crop has had some quality problems and has been expensive,” Pandol said.
Like grape volume, attendance at this year’s summit looks to easily eclipse that of recent years. Monica Avalos, administrative manager for AALPUM, the Sonora grape growers association, said April 25 that she expects more than 200 on hand for this year’s summit, which would be a record.