The import season for table grapes has had a unique start as shipments from Peru to North America started about six weeks earlier than usual. “This is in part due to the rain and the effects of Hurricane Hilary on the California grape season,” says Antonio Escobar with Divine Flavor. Peru also encountered some inclement weather which caused high humidity in certain growing regions. “Although reported volume seems to be slightly higher, the increase will be significantly less than what was initially expected.” Normally, Peru doesn’t start exporting until around November, but this year, some shipments first arrived at the end of September and early October. “Grape quality has been good so far. While there is potential for some mild to moderate rains in the upcoming weeks or months, it isn’t overly concerning yet,” Escobar added.
Michael DuPuis of Divine Flavor and Team Interandina, a Divine Flavor grower.
Steady flow of fruit
“Right now, we are well into our peak arrivals from Peru and are starting the transition from Northern to Southern Peru, from Piura to Ica.” Divine Flavor is expecting to see conservative growth this year as the company maintains a good balance of demand and quality supply for its export programs. “While lower yields in many regions in Peru will impact the industry, we have been able to react accordingly and our flow of fruit into North America hasn’t been affected,” Escobar said.
The company’s import grape program has seen significant growth in the last few years, but now it has evolved and has become more strategic with certain specialty grapes hitting the markets at key times of the year. “This is important as there are challenging weeks when our retail partners count on us to deliver quality fruit. In addition to being more strategic, we are increasingly focused on improving our quality and shooting for better flavor on grapes every year. This makes our product line appealing for both our customers and their consumers.” There are always many variables in the grape industry, but that goes even further during the import season. “This year, it was impactful to start almost two months earlier.”
Rafael Cilloniz of Campos del Sur, Divine Flavor International Partner.
Challenges with organic grapes
In terms of varieties, conventional and organic AUTUMNCRISP, as well as Jellyberries, and Gummyberries are starting to arrive in the US. For Divine Flavor, the biggest growth will be in AUTUMNCRISP. “This variety continues to establish itself as one of the preferred white seedless varieties in the marketplace,” commented Escobar. However, Jellyberries, Gummyberries, and candy hearts are also growing in acreage and are available for longer periods throughout the import season. Promotable volumes of Jellyberries and Gummyberries will be available for January and February. On the organic side, it has been very challenging to grow organic grapes in Peru. “We don’t expect any significant acreage growth in the upcoming seasons as we are working slowly to get better and take small steps towards building continuity in supplies.”
The Peruvian grape season is expected to continue through March and will connect smoothly with the Jalisco season that is set to begin late March.
ECOSAC Team, Divine Flavor International Partner.