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King Fresh Produce sees rise in Chilean grapes

The role of King Fresh Produce, LLC in Chile is a little different than others, as the Dinuba, CA-based company owns and farms a vineyard in the Northern part of the country and has its own people working on the farm.

“This year we’re early about 10 days, as we started packing right around November and we’ll receive our first grapes from Chile on Dec. 20,” said Keith Wilson, managing director of King Fresh Produce. “We’re not super big in Chile as our main focus is on California and Mexican grapes and we also have growers in Peru.”

Still, for Chile, King Fresh Produce will ship around 400,000 cases over the course of the next few months.

chilegrapes “Business has been good. Grapes are moving out of California right now currently. The markets are a bit lower due to all the planting that happened three to four years ago, and all those grapes are now coming into production,” Wilson said. “We see the market as being low because of this oversupply situation, especially on red grapes.”

The green grape category, meanwhile, has been very active out of California, and Wilson expects Chilean red and green grapes to be very active well through March.

“It’s a very highly competitive industry and we’re faced with a lot of challenges in regards to labor and in regards to customers’ specifications,” Wilson said. “Like any other business, managers have to be on-site and fully committed, and that’s how we stay successful.”

A family-owned company, King Fresh Produce has been doing this for more than 80 years and Wilson said the future looks bright — especially what’s to come in 2017.

“We also have California cherries that start up in mid-April and we pack naval oranges here, which we just started in late November,” Wilson said. “We’re super excited about a lot of new varieties in grapes in California. We’re taking out old varieties, such as Red Globes, that the industry doesn’t seem to be purchasing as much of.”

The company is also excited about the Chilean grape season coming up, as well as Peru, where Wilson noted a lot of exciting things are going on.

“We continue to add acreage on,” he said. “We’re planting enough to supply another 150,000 cases of grapes. We see probably a 20 percent increase in our volume for next season and seem to be on a 20 percent growth cycle each year as we continue to buy land.”