Importers of Chilean grapes expect greater volumes this winter, and are confident they can generate the demand to move it.
Reedley, Calif.-based Pacific Trellis Fruit LLC expects its first vessel shipments from Chile in mid-December, slightly earlier than last season, said Josh Leichter, the company’s general manager.
The company expects to import about 2 million boxes in 2012-13, up from 1.3 million boxes last season, Leichter said.
“We’ll be up fairly significantly,” he said. “We had a good year last year, and growers are looking to do more with us.”
The additional volume will come from existing growers expanding their programs with Pacific Trellis, rather than the importer bringing on new shippers, Leichter said.
Pacific Trellis will kick off its Chilean deal with flames, perlettes and sugraones, Leichter said.
The company expects a similar varietal mix as last year, with offerings heavy on red seedless varieties — flames at the beginning of the deal, crimsons later.
Pacific Trellis expects peak volumes near the beginning and toward the conclusion of its Chilean grape deal, Leichter said.
“We’ll be heavy on the front end and back end,” he said.
The second peak of the season will likely come in late March and April, when Pacific Trellis is expected to begin receiving Chilean crimsons and thompsons, Leichter said.
Nathel International, Pittsgrove, N.J., expects to bring its first Chilean grapes into the U.S. in mid-January, with supplies lasting through April, said Paul Newstead, the company’s director and vice president of sales and marketing.
Nathel International expects to import up to 30% more grapes from Chile this season than last, Newstead said. New grape varieties out of Chile are one big reason why.
“There are a lot of exciting things going on with grapes, and they ship pretty darn well out of South America,” he said.
Lake Success, N.Y.-based William H. Kopke Jr. Inc. expects to begin receiving its first Chilean grape shipments by mid-December, said Peter Kopke, the company’s president.
While it was still too early to know for sure, mid-October reports indicated good quality on the 2012-13 crop, Kopke said.
The first vessel bearing Chilean grapes for Jac Vandenberg Inc., Yonkers, N.Y., should arrive in mid-December, said Brian Schiro, the company’s grape category manager.
Last season, a freeze and heavy snowstorm in the Copiapo growing region put a significant dent in Vandenberg’s December and January supplies, but Schiro was not expecting a repeat of that in 2012-13.
“Up to this point the weather’s been more cooperative,” he said. “We’re expecting a healthier crop.”
Finding sufficient water, however, has been a problem for many Chilean growers this year, Schiro said.
“A lot of growers are using water from wells as a substitute,” he said.