Mexican table grape growers should have a lot to celebrate when a couple of all-American holidays roll around this year.
Unlike last year, when a slow start to the season put a damper on grape sales for Memorial Day, supplies are expected to be plentiful for the holiday this year. The same should hold true for the Fourth of July.
Memorial Day can be a big question mark for table grapes, said Jared Lane, vice president of marketing for Stevco Inc., Los Angeles.
It’s hard to know whether the price will be right for promotions, he said.
With this year’s anticipated early start, “very promotable volume” should be available by late May, he said.
Perlettes should be in peak production, and flames also should be in good production at that time, Lane said. And volume could be up as much as 35% industrywide this May compared with last May.
There will be a sales bump for the holidays, said Atomic Torosian, managing partner in Crown Jewels Produce Co. LLC, Fresno, Calif.
Memorial Day helps boost sales for the early deal, and the Fourth of July helps out for the late deal, when grapes are shipping from Caborca.
Crown Jewels should have some perlettes available for Memorial Day, but there should be heavier volume of flames and sugraones, Torosian said.
Because of an early-season chill, pickers could not start the harvest until the middle of May last year, said Louie Galvan, managing partner in Fruit Royale Inc., Delano, Calif.
“By the time Memorial Day came around, there wasn’t much we could do,” he said. “There definitely weren’t any promotable numbers.”
This year should be the opposite.
“We should have promotable numbers on reds and whites by that time period,” Galvan said.
Memorial Day can be an important sales opportunity for table grapes, he said.
“It’s a good volume mover if we’re in early enough,” he said. “That adds an element to our season that makes it go a lot quicker.”
The scenario is a bit different for the Fourth of July.
Independence Day is a big promotion time, but grapes aren’t always a front-page item for a supermarket’s advertising circular, Lane said.
Corn and melons and other summer fruit will be coming out in July and may be more likely to occupy the prime ad slots, he said.
Nonetheless, the company should have plenty of fruit throughout the season, and Lane expects to see quite a few grape ads for both red and green varieties.
Grapes usually ship from Mexico into the first or second week of July, Galvan said, so there should be fruit available for the Fourth of July.
“That’s an important one for us,” he said, since product usually ships the week before the holiday.
Fruit usually is not available from Northern California until after the Fourth, he said, so most chains depend on either Mexico or California’s Coachella Valley deal for their Independence Day ads.
Picking could begin in California’s Central Valley by July 4, Torosian said, with the Mexican deal winding down the first week of July.