Grower-shippers are increasing their organic grape offerings from Mexico. Divine Flavor LLC produces about two-thirds of the organic grapes coming out of Mexico, says Carlos Bon Camou, category manager. Red grapes grow in a vineyard for Pacific Trellis Fruit, which expects to ship 100,000 cartons of organic grapes out of Mexico this year. ( Photos courtesy Divine Flavor LLC; Pacific Trellis Fruit )

Organic grapes are a major part of San Diego-based Divine Flavor LLC's Mexican grape deal.

“We do about two-thirds of the organic grapes grown in Mexico,” said Carlos Bon Camou, category manager. “We’ve been doing them for a long time now.”

He said there are some proprietary varieties that Divine Flavor doesn’t even offer in the conventional category.

“There are no conventional Gummy Berries or Cotton Candy in our offer sheet,” he said.

The company has grown organically for years and even shipped the same product into conventional markets, he said.

“We had a lot of grapes that were grown organic but were not certified,” he said. “We just wanted to lower our pesticide use.”

Now, Divine Flavor — which has about 5,300 acres of grapes in the Mexican states of Jalisco, Baja California and Sonora — is nearly all-organic in its grape production, Camou said.

“For every 100 acres we plant, 90 are organic,” he said.

Others are putting more emphasis on organic production, as well.

“The organic program is growing dramatically,” said Jared Lane, vice president of marketing for Bakersfield, Calif.-based grower-shipper Stevco Inc. “We’ve got some more certification on our ranches this year and expect our organic volume to be going up 10% to 15%.”

Los Angeles-based PTF/Dulcinea Farms expects to ship 100,000 cartons of organic grapes out of Mexico this year, said Earl McMenamin, grape manager for Mexico and California.

“We were just looking for different options, make it more attractive for people to buy from Pacific Trellis,” McMenamin said.

“Demand for organic produce seems to be gaining a foothold and increasing every year, so we thought, ‘Let’s get involved with that.’”

Nogales, Ariz.-based Fresh Farms also is increasing its organic presence in Mexican grapes, said Jerry Havel, sales and marketing director.

“This year, we’ll have organic in red, green and black varieties,” he said. “Our program seems to be growing to meet demand. We’ll probably be over 10% organic, compared to 5% last year.”

Vero Beach, Fla.-based Seald Sweet International is shipping its first volume of organic flames out of Mexico, said Kelly Dietz, vice president of business development.

“We believe there is a growing market for them in the U.S.,” Dietz said.

Dinuba, Calif.-based King Fresh Produce LLC is entering a milestone year for its organic grape program out of Mexico, said Keith Wilson, owner.

“We are in our 10th year of selling organic grapes from Mexico and believe that consumers are demanding organically grown produce more and more,” he said.

“Organic grape production is certainly a factor in Mexico and a trend that we will see more of into the future,” said Marc Serpa, director of domestic grapes for the Vancouver, British Columbia-based Oppenheimer Group.

 
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