This year, Delano, CA-based Pandol Bros. Inc. will offer its premium table grape varieties in retail packaging that identifies the variety by name, according to John Pandol, a director of the corporation.
Other grape varieties from Pandol Bros. will continue to be identified by color, such as red seedless or green seedless, in “a generic bag,” Pandol told The Produce News.
In both cases, the grapes will be packed in laminate pouch or stand-up bags “which I think are the new standard,” he added.
“This year, for the first time, we will be able to offer both a premium and a regular line of red seedless,” Pandol said. “We will have substantial Scarlet Royal available,” and simultaneously will have substantial availability of the new proprietary Sweet Celebration variety available.
Pandol Bros. introduced the Sweet Celebration variety from International Fruit Genetics to the market two years ago on a commercial scale and increased production last year and again this year. It is expected to start this year in late July or early August.
Having the two varieties of red seedless grapes available at the same time will allow retailers who want to offer two different red varieties at one time the opportunity to do so.
The varieties “have a different taste profile that will appeal to different customers,” Pandol said.
In a previous interview, he described Sweet Celebration as having “a very low acid finish in the taste.” The grape “tends to get a large berry size and at least in our area it tends to be a bright pink,” rather than the burgundy color of some red grape varieties. “The sweet taste with no tannic after finish is really an interesting taste characteristic.”
Because Pandol Bros. will have “fairly big numbers of Sweet Celebration” this year, “retailers who would like to take that approach will have the ability to do it,” Pandol said in the July 11 interview. “They will be identified by variety.”
The Sweet Celebration grapes will also have separate PLU codes from the generic red seedless grapes. In addition, “we will have the G-10 numbers for retailers who have that capability,” he said. “We are starting to see the post-PLU technologies get some critical mass.”
Pandol Bros. had the second earliest start date by one day for its grapes in the San Joaquin Valley on record this year, and it was appearing as of early July that other varieties through the season would continue to track earlier than normal, Pandol said.
He expected the harvest to continue well into fall. “We are going to pack grapes till Thanksgiving, there is no question,” he said.
The earlier start dates will allow Pandol Bros. to get its experimental varieties “into the market in a little earlier time frame than we are accustomed to,” Pandol said. For example, Sugar Crunch was expected to start by late July and Sweet Celebration would start early August with heavy volume by late August.
Sugar Crunch is a new proprietary green seedless variety that was expected to start around mid-July. The company currently has “prototype quantities” of the variety planted, according to Pandol.
Also in the green seedless category, Pandol Bros. “will be experimenting with a variety called Timpson,” which has Thompson timing, he said. “We’ll see how that goes from both a retail acceptance and a production standpoint. We look at that as a Thompson alternative.”
Thompsons, one the most popular seedless grape on the market, are now only about five percent of the industry, Pandol noted. At Pandol Bros., they are currently about eight percent of the company’s overall production.
This year, “we will have retailers experimenting with Timpson” to see how they like it, he said.
By around the first of September, Pandol Bros. will be harvesting and packing Autumn Kings, which, along with some Luiscos, will constitute the company’s late season green seedless program.
In the red seedless category, following Sweet Celebration and Scarlet Royal, Pandol Bros. will finish the season with the Crimson variety.