After a delayed start to the Mexican table grape season, producers are bouncing back with normal production moving into the month of June. Production is currently coming from the northern and coastal districts of Sonora, areas that were delayed due to cooler spring weather. Grape volumes are quickly returning to normal with most early greens already stabilized and reds a few days behind. “We’re finally seeing grape supplies come back to normal,” says Carlos Bon, VP of sales for Divine Flavor.
“The pipeline was so dry these past few weeks, which made it difficult to get shelves back in stock with fruit, but grape production is quickly stabilizing. We’re in good shape on greens as most of the early varieties are back online and we’ll be there soon with the reds, too.”
“June typically marks a time of the season where early varietals are in full swing of production, and compared to the 2022 season, volume is down 73 percent from this time last year,” mentions Bon. “The late start to the Sonora grape deal and lack of volume put a lot of pressure on all of us, but things are turning around, and we’ll be in a position to do big promotions at the end of this month throughout July.”
Cooler temperatures are the main source of the current shortages. Bon mentions the late start has been concerning but better days lie ahead. “This grape season has been difficult and my least enjoyable in the all the years doing this,” says Carlos. “Nature really dealt us a tough hand and we are navigating through it the best way possible. Despite the rocky start, prices will adjust to comfortable levels over the next days, starting with greens. Reds are still a few days away from full stock.”
Back in March, the Sonora grape crop was estimated to produce over 21.5 million boxes. However, this number is looking to be closer to 20 million in total. Flame seedless, accounting for a large percentage of Sonoran grape acreage, is experiencing smaller yields and more grape bunches to fill 18-pound retail boxes. Bon mentioned Sonora will fall shy of one million less than what it originally projected.
“Typically, it takes around 26 bunches to fill a box. This year, yields are producing smaller berries and grape growers are needing around 38 bunches,” says Carlos.
“It has been one of the most challenging seasons, but we do see light at the end of the tunnel. Volume is coming, and we will start specialty varieties in about 12 days. If there’s a positive note to take away from the delay and late start is the quality and condition of the fruit is incredible. The key will be sending our retail partners outstanding quality grapes. Great fruit always sells.”