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Annual grape congress in Chile allows for knowledge sharing

There is a demand for good grapes

If you had asked Carlos Bon a few years ago how he’d feel about dealing with the volume of fruit he has now, the Fruit Category Manager for Divine Flavor would have said it’d be crazy - but now he says it never seems to be enough. “Our company has grown exponentially when it comes to grapes both in our own production and our joint venture with South American growers,” he said. 

Divine Flavor has 23 different varieties of grapes being harvested commercially this year in Mexico alone. “That tells you we’re the kind of grower that goes to visit another country, sees a particular kind of grape being grown and if we like it, we plant it because we know if we like it, other people will too.” What makes a popular grape? Beside the right variety, it’s the patience to grow and harvest them. “The demand from the consumer for good eating produce is overwhelming.” 

Cotton Candy grapes on the vine.

Bon feels that, until now, grapes had lost a lot of momentum over the years because of poor eating quality and the dominance of producing larger fruit and longer shelf life. “They forgot about flavor. The reason for grapes is for people to eat them, love them and come back to buy more,” he said. Divine Flavor’s top three varieties are Sweet Celebration, Cotton Candy and Sweet Globe. He says they went from moving 900,000 to 3.5 million boxes of Mexican grapes in four years and that the 900,000 boxes of lesser flavored grapes were harder to sell than 3.5 million boxes of good eating grapes. 

He and his partners, Ecosac (Northern Peru), Agricola Don Ricardo (Southern Peru) and Santa Elena (Chile) will be participating in their second annual congress in Chile to meet, share technical data, commercial results and get together with other like-minded grape enthusiasts. Two new ranch locations in two states of Mexico – Baja California and Jalisco will be producing grapes in about two years from now, allowing Divine Flavor to supply grapes from the beginning of Peru (early December) all the way through end of Baja California’s season in November. “There’s a lot that we can learn from each other.” 

“I’m a sucker for grapes – it’s like a hobby for me – not just my job. I think the challenge there is for the retailers who are representing the consumer: it’s their job to call us out and (demand high quality). My job is to give the consumer the best grape there is.” 

For more information: 
Carlos Bon 
Divine Flavor 
Ph: 619-616-7411