Some shippers say weather could crimp volumes, but others expect plenty for promos. ( File Photo )

The West Mexico produce season brings plenty of retail promotions, suppliers say.

“Definitely,” said Alex Leon, salesman with Bernardi & Associates Inc., a Nogales, Ariz.-based brokerage.

“They’re always promoting the Mexican products to all of the retailers and always looking for contracting, promoting their fruit. It’s a big thing for Mexican growers, making sure they hit the retailers.”

Promotions are important to Nogales-based Del Campo Supreme Inc., said Jim Munguia, sales manager.

“Of course, retail is a big part of our company’s business,” he said.

The timing of the deal has changed, and that has been a boon to retail promotions, particularly for the Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday pushes, said Jerry Havel, sales and marketing director for Nogales-based Fresh Farms.

“In my lifetime, West Mexico didn’t used to get going until November-December. Now, we start our crops in September, and there’s lots of opportunities to promote from Thanksgiving and Christmas,” he said.

That’s the picture for the typical year.

This year hasn’t been typical, with numerous weather events sweeping across Mexico in the early fall, said Fried DeSchouwer, president of Vero Beach, Fla.-based Greenhouse Produce Co. LLC.

“There will be a market with very few opportunities to promote on the pepper and tomato side and part of the veg side, like eggplant,” he said.

“The reason is, Florida has been hit, Sonora has been hit, Georgia has been hit, and the Carolinas, too (with hurricanes and tropical storms).

“So, between Florence and Michael and then the system that went through Sonora a week ago, and now (hurricanes) Vicente and Willa knocking on the door. ... Now, experts have said that this year we should expect this hurricane season to continue through the end of November and into early December — literally two to four weeks longer because of warmer weather.”

That’s not good for promotions, he said.

Others disagree.

“The holiday promotions continue to be steady, since we have most staple items in full swing with volume and quality,” said Jaime Chamberlain, president of Chamberlain Distributing Inc. in Nogales.

“This year should be no different.”

Consumers will be ready, said Mikee Suarez, salesman with Rio Rico, Ariz.-based MAS Melons & Grapes LLC.

“It’s the time of year of the fall bounty,” he said.

“Everybody has to stock up their fridge. We are happy to be part of that now, because we’re doing a lot more squash. We’re more part of Thanksgiving than we used to be.”

MAS is promoting its squash going into the holiday season, Suarez said.

“Plus, we have promotions on melons through the winter months,” he said.

Tomato promotions will heat up around the first of the year, said Chuck Thomas, president and owner of Nogales-based Thomas Produce Sales Inc.

“Romas start in mid-November, with grape tomatoes and rounds starting after that,” he said.

Hard squash and cucumbers will be part of Thanksgiving retail promotions, Thomas said.

“A lot of this stuff has gone to contracts with chain stores,” he said. “They’ve determined what they’re going to need for promotions and contract accordingly with growers.”

The West Mexico deal provides plenty of competition in promotions, which is good for the industry, said Scott Vandervoet, partner with Nogales-based Vandervoet & Associates Inc.

“There’s a lot of growers and labels and that lends to diversity and competition. Both make the industry better,” he said. “Competition makes us all stronger.”

 
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