Direct Source Marketing is changing the way they import their organic grapes this season. “Winter organics are always a hot topic for retailers and for the past five years there has been a high demand but a fairly short supply,” says Ira Greenstein. “This year, it looks like Peru as an industry will have increased volumes of organic table grapes for the US market. The three-week transit time from loading them in Peru to when they are ready for distribution here in the US has posed challenges in the past and turning the fruit quickly once it arrives has been key to making good arrivals. That is why this year we wanted to try a different approach,” he says.
“We are going to import all our organics into the US in bulk this year, which is quite unique for the industry. All arrivals will then be packed to order here on the East Coast into clamshells. We think that this will provide the retailer with a much better-quality product at delivery, and we’ll be able to guarantee the quality and condition of the product. It will really show itself on the shelf and provide a better overall experience for the consumer as well as reducing the high shrink that retailers have experienced in the past” says Greenstein.
Steady Peruvian supplies for Direct Source this season
With the first shipments of Peruvian table grapes already in the US and on the water, the transition from the domestic table grape season into the import season is under way, although overall shipments will not be able to support a full transition until the end of December. Peru is projected to have increased volumes of grapes this year, expecting to exceed 50 million boxes. Greenstein shares: “For the US, we’ll start seeing increased arrivals of Peruvian fruit at the beginning of December, and the volumes will increase toward the end of the month. We will absolutely have promotable volumes arriving to the US by the end of January”
This season, Direct Source Marketing is supplementing their usual supplies of Peruvian table grapes from contracted growers, with their own supplies. “This will be our first year of full production from our own growing operation in Villacari, just north of Ica,” Greenstein shares. “We are also very excited to have a first leaf crop of Sunworld Autumn Crisp, which will be available through our partnership with Vanguard International in April of 2021.”
These new volumes will allow Direct Source to have steady supplies of Peruvian table grapes from mid-December through mid-April, Greenstein shares. “Through strong growing partnerships with contracted growers and the addition of our own production, we have been able to extend our offerings through the entire winter season. The month of April has always been a good window for quality imported green seedless and now that we will have Autumn Crisp to offer, it strengthens our place in that market. We see that retailers in the US want consistency. They don’t want suppliers who only have volumes some months of the year or who move through different origins all the time. They’re really focused on building relationships with vendor partners who can provide consistent supply throughout the season,” he adds.
In addition to giving the company a steady supply throughout the entire Peruvian season, they also added their own operation to increase their vertical integration. “Strong retail partners demand that their suppliers become more vertically integrated, so it was a key point for us for growth in the business,” Greenstein says.
Greenstein's partner at Direct Source Marketing, Bill Hargett.
Fight for market-share this season
In addition to their Peruvian supply, Direct Source Marketing also imports table grapes from Chile. “The first vessel of Chilean grapes will arrive to the US East Coast just before Christmas, around December 20th, with substantial volumes arriving by the first week of February. The promotable volumes from Chile will arrive in February and March and go into April as well,” Greenstein says.
Greenstein expects to see a lot of competition in the market this year. “Increased volumes from Peru are combined with consistent volumes from Chile. Brazil is entering the market now too, and we may even see supplies from South Africa in play this winter, so people will be fighting for market share this year for sure,” he says.
“We are making sure that we are competitively priced on all of our table grapes, both conventional and organic, this year. Fruit needs to move through the system and the only way we’ll do that is to provide retailers with the opportunity to set fair and competitive prices at store level to get the consumer support, which has been a concern through this California domestic season,” Greenstein concludes.
For more information:
Direct Source Marketing
Tel: +1 (914) 241-4434