“Organic is starting this week and we’ll probably go for about one month,” owner Jim Pandol said Aug. 19. Like conventionally grown Sweet Babies, they’ll feature small berries and high brix.
“Over the years it’s really been more of an ethnic item favored by Middle Eastern and Eastern European consumers in the U.S.,” Pandol said. “They like that little berry. One of the characteristics of this product is that it’s not blown up with cytokinins and gibberellins like normal table grapes. They’re grown more for flavor intensity.”
“We’ve been trying to bring it to the general public in recent years so it has a chance to become a mainstream retail item like mangos or avocados,” he said.
Packaging for the new organic Sweet Babies will include a quick-response code that takes consumers to a website explaining the grapes. The primary variety used is thompson seedless.
Selma, Calif.-based Pandol Associates Marketing added its first clamshell pack option on conventional Sweet Babies in 2012 as an alternative to the traditional 21-pound bulk pack.
“The whole product line has been fast growing but clamshells have been especially fast, almost doubling every year,” Pandol said.
Much of that growth has been in Canada.
“Part of it is that the Canadians are focused on freshness and flavor more than a lot of Americans are,” he said. “But I do think the trend is coming in the U.S. Americans are interested in new flavors and something different beyond just berry size.”