There are two major changes at Hronis Inc. in Delano, CA, for the 2013 grape season, according to Pete Hronis, vice president of sales and marketing.
One is a major increase to new varieties, which is “quite an amazing change,” he told The Produce News. “Number two, we are now 100 percent in what they call the handle bag or stand-up gusseted bag,” which makes it “easier for the consumers to pick up the grapes and continue on their way.” That has been “the other big change for us here at Hronis.”
Not all grapes go in the same bag, however. “Every retailer seems to want their own bag. But we learned a long time ago, they are the customer,” Hronis said.
“We are building larger packaging warehouses, I can tell you that,” he added.
The switch to all gusseted bags is “due to such great response during our trials last year and advance requests this year,” Hronis said in an earlier written statement. “That is what retailers want now, and the store displays they are creating with the handle bags are quite eye-catching.”
Most of the growth in grape acreage at Hronis Inc. this year has been in three varieties — two green seedless and one red seedless.
In green grapes, the company has “large growth on the Sugraone grape on the early side, as well as on the Autumn King in the fall,” Hronis said. Autumn King is a newer variety that has rapidly gained popularity for the late season in recent years. Sugraone is not a new variety but is one that has also become more widely planted recently, and it is “new for us the last couple of years,” he said.
With the growth in those two varieties, Hronis Inc. has “virtually removed all of our Thompson seedless,” he said. “We are down to just a few blocks of Thompsons left for a few customers that still like that variety. But I see that variety being completely out, here, in the next couple of years.”
Bridging from the early-season Sugraone variety and the late-season Autumn King variety at Hronis Inc. is the Princess, “which has pretty much been an August-September grape for us,” Hronis said. The three varieties give the company a continuous supply of green seedless grapes throughout the season, “so Sugraones — July, Princess — August and September, and Autumn Kings — October, November and December,” he said.
Scarlet Royal, the other variety in which Hronis has significant growth this year, is a September grape, fitting between an earlier and a later red seedless variety — Flame seedless, which is harvested in July and August, and Crimson, which is a fall grape, Hronis explained.
In addition, “we also have in the ground a new red variety that has the potential to compete with the Crimsons.”
It is in a test stage this year, and he was not ready to name the variety, but he described it as being a large, full-colored grape. It is “not in commercial production yet,” he reiterated.
In the black seedless category, Hronis Inc. has two varieties: Summer Royal for July and August and Autumn Royal for September, October and November.
“They are really the two best blacks on the market,” he said.