With the multitude of new proprietary grape varieties entering the markets, it has become difficult to stand out. DLJ Produce, however, is finding much success with their Razzle, Dazzle, and RazzleDazzle grapes. Mike Asdoorian says: “It all started with the RazzleDazzle: bicolor red and green seedless grapes with premium quality and eating experience. We were working with a grower in California to pack these and doing a program for retail on the East Coast who had exclusive access to it. They really loved it and so we decided to expand on that and split it into the Razzle, red seedless, and Dazzle, green seedless to add to the RazzleDazzle bicolor.”
Brand exclusivity promotes sales
The program has been running out of California for two years, but this year the company also added South America to their production. “This was our first year importing out of South America – Chile and Peru specifically which allows us to supply the grapes year-round. We work with our growers at field level to ensure the growing process and quality. The retailers who work with us know they are getting the exclusive rights to the brand and this really has many added benefits.”
Some of the benefits include increased store loyalty and volume bumps. Asdoorian explains: “We have noticed that stores who carry the RazzleDazzle grapes don’t need to be as aggressive on their retail price as their competitors who carry conventional grape labels. The retailers are able to really use the exclusivity to their advantage, and we’ve seen things such as store signs reading ‘Exclusive home of the RazzleDazzle table grapes.’ This really helps draw in the customers.”
Once the customers are drawn in and purchase the grapes, the RazzleDazzle branding works to remain in customers’ minds. “With the branding, the focus was on keeping it simple and recognizable. The name and the packaging sticks in people’s minds. This also encourages return trips and store loyalty because the grapes won’t be available in just any store.”
South American growing season wrapping up
As the Chilean and Peruvian grape seasons are coming to an end, grape importers are looking to begin their transition to the Mexican season soon. For DLJ Produce, this is the first season they are importing from each of these origins. “It has been a good season in South America. We had less volume than we had hoped out of Chile due to the drought there. But this is something that affected all the grapes in the country, and there isn’t much you can do about it. Peru did great this season, and overall we’re looking forward to getting more volume out of Chile next season,” says Asdoorian.
The transition to the Mexican production will happen in May. Asdoorian shares: “There might be a slight gap at the end of the Chilean season, but we will go into full production in Mexico in the middle of May. There was a slight freeze in Mexico which could affect volume on the front-end of the season, specifically for the green seedless grapes. But this won’t affect us much.”
He adds: “After Mexico, we’ll go into the California season. So far, California is looking fantastic. We have a lot of growers there and have great premium varieties to focus on. So, from mid-May through the end of December we should have great volumes and smooth transitions from Mexico to California.”
DLJ is currently not exporting the Razzle, Dazzle, and RazzleDazzle grapes overseas yet, but this is in their plan for the coming years. “Right now, the focus is on executing our domestic programs right and to not overstretch ourselves. But, down the road it is definitely something we want to grow into,” Asdoorian says.
He concludes: “We are being very selective with where we put our label. We had great volumes come out of California last season, but we decided to limit the volume and find the right equilibrium between helping the growers move their crop and retaining that exclusivity by not overextending ourselves. We are expanding and do have more retailers coming to us for the 2020 season, but we’re being smart about it: we want to create value for the program through that exclusivity, we want a program that’s not just successful for ourselves but also for our retailers and growers.”