With large crops and late starts on all varieties for the spring grape deals in
Mexico and California's Coachella Valley, there was an expectation this year
that both producing areas would still be going strong when the grape harvest
in the San Joaquin Valley in Central California was ready to begin.
Even though the Central California crop was also running late due to cool
spring weather, growers were concerned that a significant amount of fruit
from Mexico and Coachella would still remain to be marketed when the
Central California harvest began.
But to the surprise of many, by the week of July 12, just as the harvest in
Central California was getting underway, a combination of factors had quickly
brought the Mexico and Coachella shipping seasons almost to an end, and it
had become evident that the feared major overlap had not materialized.
"The transition between Mexico-Coachella and the San Joaquin Valley has
been a lot better than expected," said Jared Lane, vice president of sales and
marketing for Stevco Inc. in Bakersfield, CA, which ships grapes from all
three areas. "The movement has been phenomenal on both red and green"
grape varieties. "Shippers are basically sold out or in the process of selling
out in both Mexico and Coachella," he said. "We expected an overlap of
supply and all three districts going at the same time, but that is not
happening." Stevco started harvesting Sugraones in the southern San Joaquin
Valley July 8.
Also, some of the grapes in Mexico did not "make grade" for various reasons
and were not exported. "Anything that could make grade came up here, but
there was a lot … that didn't," he said.
Mexico and Coachella both "seem to have cleaned up fairly well," Rick Paul,
category director for Sun World International LLC in Bakersfield, said July 12.
Sun World has production in Coachella and in the San Joaquin Valley, and the
company expected to start harvesting its "Superior Seedless" brand of
Sugraones in the San Joaquin Valley July 14 and Flames July 15.
"It is a perfect transition for us," Earl McMenamin, a salesperson at Pacific
Trellis Fruit LLC in Reedley, CA, said July 13. "We are finished in Mexico
except for Red Globes, and [those] will be finished up by early next week. We
are going to start Flames this week in Arvin [CA]," in the southern San Joaquin
"It appears … the two earlier districts [Mexico and Coachella] have cleaned up
nicely," Cary Crum, vice president of Green Tree International Inc. in Visalia,
CA, said July 13. Green Tree brokers grapes from Mexico and California. The
late start in Central California "has allowed for [Mexico and Coachella] to
clean up and get out of the way, so I don't think we are going to see a huge
overlap," although there will still be some overlap, he said. Consequently, he
does not expect the grape market to become depressed. But he does see "an
opportunity for retailers to promote aggressively."
The transition "has been smother than anticipated," Louie Galvan, a partner in
Fruit Royale Inc. in Delano, CA, said July 12. "We anticipated a bit of an
overlap," but "we are going to be finished shipping [Mexican grapes] out of
Nogales [AZ] by the end of this week, and it will be our first week packing up
here, so it worked out pretty good. There was good movement toward the
end of the Mexican deal to help clean up some of those inventories."