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Sonora grape deal rebounds after slow start

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Grupo Alta – Divine Favor team pick first Flames

Nogales, AZ- June 2nd, 2023- 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 costal districts of Sonora, an area which was delayed due to cooler spring weather. Moving into the first days of June, grape volumes are 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 BB #:204689.

“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 on-line 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% from this time last year, mentions Carlos.

“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,” says Carlos.

Cooler temperatures are the main source of the current shortages, not only for table grapes, but for other fruit commodities as well. Carlos 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 or so starting with greens. Reds are still a few days away from full stock.”

Back in March, it was estimated the Sonora grape crop would produce over 21.5 million boxes, though, this number is looking to be closer to roughly 20 million in total. Flame seedless, which accounts for a large percentage of Sonoran grape acreage, is experiencing smaller yields and more grape bunches to fill 18-pound retail boxes. He 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. As we work to get shelves stocked up again, the key will be sending our retail partners outstanding quality grapes. Great fruit always sells.”