The Mexican 2022 table grape season, currently underway, is proving to be challenging due to growing costs that increase by the day. The early red seedless variety Flame volumes are lower than estimated on a few farms, including that of César Ortiz, CEO of Agrofesa based in the North-West of Mexico, while the overall quality of the grapes are good.
César Ortiz, CEO of Agrofesa
“It´s a challenging season since our growing costs, compared to last year, have increased at least 25% and are continuing to rise every day. For most, if not all, inputs, inflation is very concerning. We expect strong promotions coming in the last week of May until the end of our deal. There are still deals being made while we are actively communicating to the industry about being aware of this important increase in our production costs, so promotions are set at reasonable pricing for the given circumstances. Quality this year is outstanding and the crop looks fantastic. The first Flame blocks are finishing shorter than what we anticipated. Our estimation on that variety will definitely be lower. We are currently harvesting early and mid-season green and red varieties, both organic and conventional, along with black seedless grapes. Our grape season goes from mid-May until the end of June,” states Ortiz.
A few other growers in the region are also seeing lower than estimated early Flame volumes. Agrofesa, with 550 acres (222 hectares) of table grapes, started harvesting at the beginning of last week. Some of their varieties include Sweet Globe, Ivory, Timpson, Flame, Candy Snaps, Sweet Celebration and Summer Royal. They also grow a range of vegetables in Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico where the business started 60 years ago. “We are not expanding, we are transitioning from traditional varieties to proprietary varieties. By 2024, about 60% of our production will all be proprietary grape varieties," says Ortiz.
Fortunately for Mexican table grape growers like Agrofesa their main market in the USA does not require much shipping compared to other table grape growing countries with far away destinations. While they are spared from these large shipping increases, the cost of trucking across the USA has increased substantially. “We export mainly to the USA and Canada. We occasionally send grapes to Asia, but only one or two containers as negotiations with buyers are still underway. Most of our grape shipments to Asia are from our later varieties.”
“All of our land logistics to the USA are taken care of by our subsidiary, with a Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT), certified vehicle trucking fleet, equipped with tracking systems, which allow us to plan our transportation logistics to ensure the highest quality and freshness of our products,” explains Ortiz.