Growers expect fast and furious table grape movement

08/12/2013 09:19:00 AM
Vicky Boyd

KINGSBURG, Calif. — After an early start to the California table grape season and a fast and furious first half, growers, shippers and marketers say they expect that momentum to continue well past Labor Day.

George Matoian, sales and marketing director for Visalia Produce Sales Inc., checks the progress of autumn king green seedless grapes in a vineyard near Selma.Vicky BoydGeorge Matoian, sales and marketing director for Visalia Produce Sales Inc., checks the progress of autumn king green seedless grapes in a vineyard near Selma.“One of the things that we’re anticipating is we’re two weeks earlier than last year,” said George Matoian, sales and marketing director for Visalia Produce Sales Inc., Kingsburg. “That, coupled with the demand that’s also so good, we might see a rise in FOB during the month of September and definitely into the month of October, because we’re harvesting a lot more grapes earlier.”

During the 2012 season, California harvested 100.1 million 19-pound box equivalents of table grapes, according to the Fresno-based California Table Grape Commission.

The commission in April issued a preliminary estimate for this season of 106.9 million boxes.

Much of the early accelerated movement has been prompted by exceptional quality and stable, promotable prices, Matoian said.

“Flames this year are the best I’ve ever eaten,” said Ron Wikum, grape category sales manager for Bravante Produce, Reedley. “They’re off the charts. They’re just fantastic. Everything’s early this year. I think repeat sales are driving the deal, and we couldn’t be happier.”

That quality is expected to continue into the fall varieties, such the black seedless autumn royal, the green seedless autumn king, and red seedless scarlet royal and crimson, said Atomic Torosian, managing partner for Fresno-based Crown Jewels Produce.

“I was looking at some vineyards last Friday (July 19) and saw some fruit that’s coming up for the late August, September and October period,” he said. “The fruit looked over the top with great quality.”

Sundale Sales, Tulare, has a variety mix weighted heavily into the later types. With all grapes coming off early, President Sean Stockton said the second half of the season may prove to be a balancing act.

“The whole early part of the season has been early,” he said. “It’s going to be interesting to see how the middle and the later seasons play out because everything is coming on so fast.

“You have some of these red seedless varieties where the color is moving rapidly. When it all comes on that fast, it can be a tricky situation to try to figure it out.”

Like many other grower-shippers, Stockton said this season’s grape quality has been some of the best he’s ever seen.

“With a big crop and to have this type of quality, it’s kind of a blessing,” he said. “It makes things that much easier to deal with.”

Sales in the bag

High-graphic handled pouches also appear to be taking the industry by storm. Many grower-shippers say the stand-up, pleated bags have become the norm and have displaced older cloudy slider bags in most markets in just the few short years since they were introduced.

“It just displays so much better and it’s so much cleaner — it’s just a nicer bag,” Wikum said. “I don’t expect to pack any zip bags next year.”

Stockton has seen a similar response at retail.

“It’s become a high-demand item across the board in the table grape industry,” he said. “We’ve seen a significant increase over the last two years, and this year it’s a dominate factor in the marketplace.”

Nevertheless, Stockton described the pouches as a double-edged sword. Although they do display the grapes better, they also cost significantly more than the old slider bags.

Even if retailers request slider bags, Matoian said they want the newer, clear ones that lend themselves to colorful printing and better showcasing the fruit.

Depending on the style, some handleless slider bags also have pleats on the bottom, allowing for stand-up displays.


Warm summer should enhance fall fruit quality
By Vicky Boyd
Staff Writer
LINDSAY, Calif. — Warm spring and summer weather that pushed the start of the table grape season and enhanced fruit sugars is expected to have a similar positive effect on fall citrus, say growers, shippers and marketers.
“I always say, the oranges follow the grapes,” said Al Imbimbo, vice president of sales and marketing for Lindsay-based Suntreat Packing & Shipping Co. “The amount of heat units we’ve had over the spring and summer will be conducive to great eating quality and perhaps a little earlier start.”
The valencia season should tail off in October just as the navel season begins.
Growers, shippers and marketers contacted for this article said the navel orange crop looks slightly smaller than last year, when the industry packed 90 million 40-pound cartons, according to a July 11 U.S. Department of Agriculture estimate.
With the smaller volume, they expect larger fruit size.
“Overall the set on the trees is light, and the size structure will be on the larger size,” said Tracy Jones, vice president of domestic sales for Booth Ranches LLC.
The Orange Cove-based grower-shipper projects navels will peak on 72s.
Booth Ranches actually expects to see significant volume increases in a few of its younger blocks of spring navels and Washington varieties as the trees move toward full production, Jones said.
Suntreat Packing & Shipping Co. also expects to see increased volume of its Reserve Citrus line, which it launched at the beginning of the 2012-13 season, Imbimbo said. It includes oro blanco grapefruit, cara cara navels, reserve navels, gold nugget mandarins and seedless lemons.
In addition, Suntreat plans to have additional volumes of Sumo, a large mandarin that has great flavor but is “cosmetically challenged.”
“We’re becoming known for the big mandarins,” he said.
Sherman Oaks-based Sunkist Growers will offer retailers in-pack juicers to encourage consumers to make their own fresh-squeezed orange juice from the tail end of the valencias, Joan Wickham, advertising and public relations manager, wrote in an e-mail.
The citrus marketing cooperative will continue to have lemons year-round packed in 1-pound baby lemon bags or in 2-pound grab-and-go pouches.
Satsuma mandarins, the first of the easy peel varieties, should be available in early October, followed by clementines, she said.
Sunkist also will have the pink-fleshed cara cara oranges as well as moro oranges in December.

Second season for maturity standard
Last year marked the first season for the new California navel maturity standard, which was developed to better represent consumer eating experiences with early-season fruit.
The previous standard was based solely on a sugar-to-acid ratio, whereas the new standard also incorporates other flavor components.
The standard will be in place again this season without any changes, said Joel Nelsen, president of Exeter-based California Citrus Mutual.
“We think it went very well, and the demand for the product early on was better than it had been in the past,” Nelsen said of last year. “We didn’t get any push-back from the shippers and growers. From an operational standpoint, it seemed to work smoothly.”
When Citrus Mutual initially proposed the new standard, the grower group said it would remain in place for three years, after which time it would be evaluated.
“Given all of the heat we’re experiencing, I don’t anticipate any sugar-acid problems,” Nelsen said in late July. “The problem we’re having with as much heat as we’re seeing is the trees kind of shut down, and the fruit doesn’t grow as rapidly in hot weather. That’s a concern.”

KINGSBURG, Calif. — After an early start to the California table grape season and a fast and furious first half,

growers, shippers and marketers say they expect that momentum to continue well past Labor Day.

“One of the things that we’re anticipating is we’re two weeks earlier than last year,” said George Matoian, sales and marketing director for Visalia Produce Sales Inc., Kingsburg. “That, coupled with the demand that’s also so good, we might see a rise in FOB during the month of September and definitely into the month of October, because we’re harvesting a lot more grapes earlier.”

During the 2012 season, California harvested 100.1 million 19-pound box equivalents of table grapes, according to the Fresno-based California Table Grape Commission.

The commission in April issued a preliminary estimate for this season of 106.9 million boxes.

Much of the early accelerated movement has been prompted by exceptional quality and stable, promotable prices, Matoian said.

“Flames this year are the best I’ve ever eaten,” said Ron Wikum, grape category sales manager for Bravante Produce, Reedley. “They’re off the charts. They’re just fantastic. Everything’s early this year. I think repeat sales are driving the deal, and we couldn’t be happier.”

That quality is expected to continue into the fall varieties, such the black seedless autumn royal, the green seedless autumn king, and red seedless scarlet royal and crimson, said Atomic Torosian, managing partner for Fresno-based Crown Jewels Produce.

“I was looking at some vineyards last Friday (July 19) and saw some fruit that’s coming up for the late August, September and October period,” he said. “The fruit looked over the top with great quality.”

Sundale Sales, Tulare, has a variety mix weighted heavily into the later types. With all grapes coming off early, President Sean Stockton said the second half of the season may prove to be a balancing act.

“The whole early part of the season has been early,” he said. “It’s going to be interesting to see how the middle and the later seasons play out because everything is coming on so fast.

“You have some of these red seedless varieties where the color is moving rapidly. When it all comes on that fast, it can be a tricky situation to try to figure it out.”

Like many other grower-shippers, Stockton said this season’s grape quality has been some of the best he’s ever seen.

“With a big crop and to have this type of quality, it’s kind of a blessing,” he said. “It makes things that much easier to deal with.”

 

Sales in the bag

High-graphic handled pouches also appear to be taking the industry by storm. Many grower-shippers say the stand-up, pleated bags have become the norm and have displaced older cloudy slider bags in most markets in just the few short years since they were introduced.

“It just displays so much better and it’s so much cleaner — it’s just a nicer bag,” Wikum said. “I don’t expect to pack any zip bags next year.”

Stockton has seen a similar response at retail.

“It’s become a high-demand item across the board in the table grape industry,” he said. “We’ve seen a significant increase over the last two years, and this year it’s a dominate factor in the marketplace.”

Nevertheless, Stockton described the pouches as a double-edged sword. Although they do display the grapes better, they also cost significantly more than the old slider bags.

Even if retailers request slider bags, Matoian said they want the newer, clear ones that lend themselves to colorful printing and better showcasing the fruit.

Depending on the style, some handleless slider bags also have pleats on the bottom, allowing for stand-up displays.

KINGSBURG, Calif. — After an early start to the California table grape season and a fast and furious first half,

growers, shippers and marketers say they expect that momentum to continue well past Labor Day.

“One of the things that we’re anticipating is we’re two weeks earlier than last year,” said George Matoian, sales and marketing director for Visalia Produce Sales Inc., Kingsburg. “That, coupled with the demand that’s also so good, we might see a rise in FOB during the month of September and definitely into the month of October, because we’re harvesting a lot more grapes earlier.”

During the 2012 season, California harvested 100.1 million 19-pound box equivalents of table grapes, according to the Fresno-based California Table Grape Commission.

The commission in April issued a preliminary estimate for this season of 106.9 million boxes.

Much of the early accelerated movement has been prompted by exceptional quality and stable, promotable prices, Matoian said.

“Flames this year are the best I’ve ever eaten,” said Ron Wikum, grape category sales manager for Bravante Produce, Reedley. “They’re off the charts. They’re just fantastic. Everything’s early this year. I think repeat sales are driving the deal, and we couldn’t be happier.”

That quality is expected to continue into the fall varieties, such the black seedless autumn royal, the green seedless autumn king, and red seedless scarlet royal and crimson, said Atomic Torosian, managing partner for Fresno-based Crown Jewels Produce.

“I was looking at some vineyards last Friday (July 19) and saw some fruit that’s coming up for the late August, September and October period,” he said. “The fruit looked over the top with great quality.”

Sundale Sales, Tulare, has a variety mix weighted heavily into the later types. With all grapes coming off early, President Sean Stockton said the second half of the season may prove to be a balancing act.

“The whole early part of the season has been early,” he said. “It’s going to be interesting to see how the middle and the later seasons play out because everything is coming on so fast.

“You have some of these red seedless varieties where the color is moving rapidly. When it all comes on that fast, it can be a tricky situation to try to figure it out.”

Like many other grower-shippers, Stockton said this season’s grape quality has been some of the best he’s ever seen.

“With a big crop and to have this type of quality, it’s kind of a blessing,” he said. “It makes things that much easier to deal with.”

 

Sales in the bag

High-graphic handled pouches also appear to be taking the industry by storm. Many grower-shippers say the stand-up, pleated bags have become the norm and have displaced older cloudy slider bags in most markets in just the few short years since they were introduced.

“It just displays so much better and it’s so much cleaner — it’s just a nicer bag,” Wikum said. “I don’t expect to pack any zip bags next year.”

Stockton has seen a similar response at retail.

“It’s become a high-demand item across the board in the table grape industry,” he said. “We’ve seen a significant increase over the last two years, and this year it’s a dominate factor in the marketplace.”

Nevertheless, Stockton described the pouches as a double-edged sword. Although they do display the grapes better, they also cost significantly more than the old slider bags.

Even if retailers request slider bags, Matoian said they want the newer, clear ones that lend themselves to colorful printing and better showcasing the fruit.

Depending on the style, some handleless slider bags also have pleats on the bottom, allowing for stand-up displays.



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anonymous    
August, 13, 2013 at 12:48 PM

Hopefully no US border agents will die during the "fast and furious" grape running operation.

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