The Packer’s National Editor Tom Karst chatted on March 29 with Barry Bedwell, president of the Fresno-based California Grape and Tree Fruit League. Read the entire chat on the Fresh Talk blog.

3 p.m. Tom Karst: I’m interested in your take in the marketing order development with California peaches and nectarines, with the referendum vote falling short of what they need to continue.

Q&A | Barry Bedwell, California Grape and Tree Fruit League


3:01 p.m. Barry Bedwell: I certainly feel that there are going to be needs of the industry that still must be addressed. While this unfortunately didn’t go through, it does not take away some of the areas that certainly growers are still going to be looking for. Those include things outside pure marketing and promotion. They certainly include (issues like) how do you coordinate research, how do you coordinate certain trade activities, how are you going to deal potentially in crisis management situations, how are you going to get the statistical information you need. My hope is that I can sit down with Gary (Van Sickle of the California Tree Fruit Agreement) somewhat in the near future and talk about some of those things and say how can we best meet the needs of the tree fruit community as we move ahead. Just because the vote didn’t pass doesn’t mean that there is still not going to be these needs out there.

3:12 p.m. Karst: How is the grower economy right now for grape and tree fruit growers?

3:13 p.m. Bedwell: I think overall the fresh table grape people are again doing OK because they are in a situation where their growth is more controlled. You are dealing with only 500 table grape growers. Forty years ago, there were 1,500 growers (producing) 20 million boxes and now we have 500 growers growing about a 100 million boxes. Even at that, we still have primarily small and medium size growers. There is still growth in both export and domestic for table grapes. They are continuing to look at new varieties, but it is controlled. There is a discipline within the industry that does a good job. I think the California Table Grape Commission deserves much of the credit in the communications, information and the promotions they have done in the last four plus decades. That is one marketing order and commission that is very much an example for others to follow. I think there are some good things and stability in that sector …

This is a good question now: Will we be able to continue with the amount of information and estimates in 2011 that we expect normally to get from CTFA? I’m not sure. How will that void be filled?