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OAG Global offering table grapes from Peru

FRESNO, CA — As reported previously in The Produce News, Omar Abu Ghazaleh, formerly a manager at Pacific Trellis Fruit LLC in Reedley, CA, has founded a new grower-direct produce importing and marketing company, OAG Global Inc., headquartered here. In an Oct. 10 press release, the company announced “its debut import season with a prominent stake in the Peruvian table grape category.”

Soon to follow will be other products from Peru such as avocados as well as grapes and premium conditioned tree fruit from Chile.

Scott Albertson, formerly director of marketing and business development at Deardorff Family Farms, has joined the company on the sales and marketing side. Prior to Deardorff, “Mr. Albertson managed the global business division of Ballantine Produce, where he developed the first and most successful Southern Hemisphere pre-conditioned and premium tree fruit program,” according to a company release.

The Produce News met with Mr. Ghazaleh and Mr. Albertson in their new offices here Nov. 30, shortly after the import season for Peruvian grapes had begun.

As a new company, OAG Global “is focused on importing what we’d like to think of as the right fruit from the right place at the right time.” That usually involves “the more challenging commodities to source” which enables the company “to be more relevant to retailers and customers,” said Mr. Albertson.

“Our main focus right now is the Peruvian grape crop. We are a major player in the Peruvian table grape imports to North America, probably representing 20-plus percent of the grapes arriving to North America,” he said. The grapes come from “a select group of growers.”

“The goal,” said Mr. Abu Ghazaleh, is “to focus on a need in the marketplace for consistent supplies during the transition period” from California to Chile, when supplies of California grapes are declining and before Chile is coming in with significant volume. “Our focus is to provide the consumer with m ore choices, better varieties, and consistent supplies” at a time when there are not many grapes on the market.”

OAG wants to provide grapes that are “unique” in terms of quality and in terms of what is available in the market at the time — for example, to offer high quality Sugraones when the only other green grapes in the marketplace are Perlettes, or to offer Crimsons and Magenta seedless at a time when the only other red seedless varieties available are Flames.

On table grapes, “we are very proud to be partnered with some of the most prominent labels in Peru,” he said. “We are … carrying the ‘Terra Sur’ “ as well as the “Red Dragon” which is “the number one label in Asia,” in addition to “a few other very nice labels.” OAG “started shipping to customers this week.”

Varieties during the Peruvian season will also include Autumn Royal, Majestic Seedless, Flame Seedless, “some Thompsons, and the special Red Globes that they have down there,” he said.

The company will begin receiving Chilean grapes shortly, and by mid to late December “we will start with preconditioned tree fruit for our customers in North America,” Mr. Abu Ghazaleh said.

The tree fruit program will consist of yellow- and white-flesh peaches and nectarines as well as plums, plumcots and apricots. The apricots will not be preconditioned.

“The idea,” he said, “is to really be doing a disciplined and rigorous quality management system on tree fruit,” working with customers who share a commitment to provide quality for their customers.