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Chuck Olsen Co. increases in three varieties, adds pouch bags to packaging options

The Chuck Olsen Co. in Visalia, CA, will see increases in three varieties of grapes for the 2013 season, according to Jeff Olsen, vice president of the company.

“We have increases in Autumn Kings,” a late season green seedless variety, he said. “On Crimsons we have a little increase” and have “an increase on Sweet Scarlets as well.” The company has “a fair amount of Sweet Scarlets,” he said.

On the packaging side, “we are doing a lot of the pouch bags this year,” something that “we really didn’t do last year,” Olsen said. “It is a great bag” but “obviously a lot more expensive” than traditional grape bags.

014-CalFruit-Olsen-JeffJeff OlsenThe Chuck Olsen Co. is not making a total switch this year to the new pouch bag, also called a gusseted bag or stand-up bag. The company will also continue offering slider bags that are made from a material similar to that used for pouch bags, but they do not have handles, Olsen said. Also, “we are doing clamshells. Whatever the customer wants, we will do.”

When The Produce News talked to Olsen in July, the company was well into its grape harvest. “We started a week to 10 days earlier than normal this year,” he said. “Right now, we are packing some black seedless and some Flames and will probably start some Princess toward the end of next week.”

So far, overall quality “looks very good,” he said. “Retailers I am sure will be promoting as long as we have good quality. If you have good quality and things are moving, it makes a better environment for us all.”

The company has “a fair amount of Princess,” and the harvest will probably continue through the middle of September.

Coming up shortly after the Princess variety will be Thompsons, Olsen said. Then, continuing the green seedless category, Autumn Kings will start “probably somewhere around the middle part of October.”

In the red seedless category, Flames will continue “through the middle to latter part of August” and will be followed by Sweet Scarlets, then Crimsons, “and then Scarlet Royals after that,” he said.

The black seedless variety the company was currently packing was Summer Royal. After Summer Royals, probably around the first or second week of August, “we will go into Autumn Royals,” Olsen said.

The company also has Red Globes, but “we don’t have any early Red Globes,” he said. “We are more like September on our red Globes.”

In light of the large crop, “we are just very thankful to have such good quality this year. We just try to do the job that needs to be done to make our customers happy and make their customers happy as well. We are all about service. We do a fair amount of consolidating so that is another service we provide,” Olsen said.

“We are not the biggest guy on the block, but we try to do a good job and service our customers the best we possibly can,” he said.