This year’s Mexican grape season was slightly different from past seasons, according to Mike Asdoorian of DLJ Produce. “A lot of growers have pulled out their early season varieties and planted later season premium varieties, which has changed up the structure of the season,” he says. For the RazzleDazzle grapes, there are about 2-3 weeks left in the Mexican season, and after this they will switch over to their Central California production.
Hot weather but good quality on Mexico season
The RazzleDazzle crop started out of Mexico in the beginning of June and will likely stretch to the beginning of July. Asdoorian shares: “The main focus is the quality of the grapes. We waited with packing the product at the start of the Mexican season so assure the highest quality. We also don’t want to overextend the season too much because we don’t want to affect the quality.”
Mexico has seen some high temperatures lately which has worried growers in the area. “There have been some heat related issues in Mexico that we want to keep our eyes on. The fruit’s quality is still good, the heat is just slowing everything down a bit. The transition to California is coming up, though, so that should alleviate the worries about the temperatures in Mexico. We’re expecting to have good volumes out of California by the second week of July,” Asdoorian shares.
Some logistical challenges, but good demand despite pandemic
The spike in COVID-19 cases in Arizona has caused some additional challenges for companies in the area. Asdoorian explains: “There are some really strict regulations, such as not letting truck drivers into facilities to reduce possible exposure. It’s been difficult getting the product across the border because of the strains on the infrastructure. Trucks rates are slightly elevated, and there are limited numbers of USDA inspectors available. Those who are available are also subject to the extra precautions and restrictions. So, getting product into the US has been a challenge, but I’d say we’ve adjusted well to it.”
The majority of the product goes directly into retail, and the demand for the RazzleDazzle grapes has been good, Asdoorian says. “The combination of the exclusivity of the program with the benefit of the fact that people aren’t eating out as much has driven demand. The grape category as a whole might not be up by any significant amount, but in general people are buying more produce. We, specifically, are seeing a double-digit growth for our grapes, so we’re looking forward to moving along the season, have a good transition and do the best we can,” he concludes.