Supplies of California grapes are steady coming from the Central Valley.
“It’s all California product available now,” says Amanda Bianco of First Quality Produce in Fresno, CA. She adds that new specialty varieties are hitting the market this year following previous years’ plantings and replacing older vines.
Bianco says that last year, smoke from the wildfires on the West Coast had somewhat of an affect on the quality of grapes. “Cloud covers from fires can affect coloring on the grapes but we are hopeful that this year’s crop won’t experience this,” she says. However, growers continue to contend with other challenges such as labor costs and availability as well as extreme heat which can affect the timing of the harvest.
Increase in single serve grapes
As for demand, supplies are meeting the demand--for First Quality, it’s coming largely from foodservice outlets and K-12 schools. “Pandemic predictions showed that consumption would increase because of people staying at home,” she says. “Also, there is an increase in individually wrapped/single serve consumption due to protocols.”
As for prices, they are higher than last year. But Bianco says they’re expected to stay stable throughout the season, even with challenges not only around weather and the pandemic but also costs around labor, freight, lumber and more.
Meanwhile for First Quality Produce, it began a rebranding process in March for the company. “We’ve spent the past few months updating content, our logo and launching a new website,” says Bianco. “We really wanted to share the story behind the Kahaian family and how First Quality Produce came about. The last three decades have been built on quality, community, commitment, ingenuity and family and it was time we showcased why we do what we do.”