“Retail demand is strong,” Brux said. “We have strong promotional programs for grapes, so we expect healthy volume movement throughout our season. Our strongest promotion push will be in March and April.”
As was true last year, thompson seedless, flame seedless, crimson seedless and sugraones will be among the top Chilean varieties shipped to the U.S. in 2014, Brux said.
Retailers also are finding space on their shelves for less well-known varieties, she said.
“There has been growing interest in what one might consider ‘niche’ varieties, like the pink seedless muscat,” Brux said. “In addition to promoting the overall Chilean grape category, we’ll work with retailers on promotions for specific varieties that can raise the profile of the entire category and generate additional consumer demand.”
Mark Greenberg, president and chief executive officer of Capespan North America LLC, St. Laurent, Quebec, said Capespan’s Chilean grape deal was running about on time compared with a typical year — but ahead of last year.
The 2014 season could be characterized by some supply hiccups, Greenberg said.
“It’s going to be the rhythm of arrivals that will be harder to predict,” he said. “The drought in Ovalle and the freeze that impacted many early varieties in the various regions could result in more irregular volumes over the course of the season.”
One thing the drought and freezes shouldn’t affect, however, is quality, which should translate into brisk movement of Chilean fruit.
“We are anticipating excellent demand,” Greenberg said. “We believe that fruit quality and condition will be superior to last season.”
Capespan’s Chilean grape volumes in 2014 should be similar to last season, he said.
Capespan expects a similar varietal mix, shipping in the typical region-by-region order of flames, sugraone, thompson, autumn royal, crimson and red globe.