California grape growers expect record crop

07/01/2013 11:24:00 AM
Mike Hornick

“It’s going to be a train wreck,” Root said June 4. “Mexico is picking 270,000-300,000 flames per day. They have 18-20 million boxes (of grapes), and they’re just getting going. They’re not halfway done with their flames.”

“It will bottleneck until after Arvin, because Mexico will just be starting their Superiors and sugraones,” he said.

“They’ve got 4.5 million sugraones in Mexico, so they’ll be peaking in the first week of July. We’ll have quite a few here, too. Our late deal is a lot bigger than our early deal.”

“We have pretty much condensed the desert deal marketing period into a smaller time,” said George Matoian, sales and marketing director for Kingsburg-based Visalia Produce Sales Inc.

Pete Giotta, salesman at Tulare-based Sundale Vineyards, said he hoped grapes would pick up Fourth of July promotions comparable to watermelon or corn.

“Usually it’s a tough time for us to promote,” he said. “This year there should be plenty of grapes.”

Mexico shipments down

Shipments out of Mexico totaled about 5.7 million boxes through the first week of June, down from 7.4 million the year before, Torosian said.

Coachella had picked and packed 1.5 million, down from just over 2 million.

“The crop is a little lighter out of Coachella and Mexico than they thought,” Torosian said. “We’re behind in both locations, but prices are not as strong as they were last year at this time.

“I start to see more ads building. More of the retailers are pushing hard to run aggressive ads, which is good.”

Jeff Olsen, vice president at Visalia-based The Chuck Olsen Co., said price drops favored promotions, even beyond the Fourth of July.

“When they were in the mid- to high-$20s, it wasn’t a real promotable item,” he said. “Now they have promotable prices and that’s obviously helping Mexico on the reds, for one, and Coachella.”

“The biggest contributor to moving fruit is having some reasonably priced ads,” Olsen said.

Bulk after Labor Day

As big as volumes will be at the start of San Joaquin Valley production thanks to overlap with other deals, California is unlikely to ship the bulk of its crop until after Labor Day. Last year, about 61 million boxes moved from September onward.



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