Blog Archives

Early start, smooth transition seen for San Joaquin Valley grapes

The spring grape deals out of Sonora, Mexico, and California’s Coachella Valley both got off to an early start this year and are expected to finish earlier than usual for most varieties, but grape shippers anticipate a smooth transition from those districts into the San Joaquin Valley as the early vineyards in the San Joaquin are also ahead of schedule.

“At this point, it looks like we will be starting in the San Joaquin  Valley sometime the week of June 16,” said Kathleen Nave, president of the California Table Grape Commission. “Then we will be busy picking and packing probably into December, if the last two years are any indication, and shipping into February.”01-EarlySJV-CropThe 2014 California grape crop is forecast to total 116.5 million 19-pound boxes, which would edge out the previous record set in 2013. (Photo courtesy of the California Table Grape Commission)

One strength of the California table grape industry is “that it is such a long season,” said Nave. ”The fact that we started in Coachella Valley this year April 28 and will be picking grapes in California into December and shipping them into February is a tremendous strength in markets around the world.  So we need volume that begins in May and carries us all the way through that time period, because we have a lot of customers,” including retailers and foodservice operators around the world who want product on a consistent basis, and the more of that we can provide the better.”

For that reason, “it is critically important that we have fruit in the Coachella  Valley” in the spring “and that we have fruit in the San Joaquin Valley” early enough that there is “a seamless transition” from Coachella. That early San Joaquin Valley fruit carries from late spring into summer, “then that carries us into the fall, which carries us into the winter,” Nave said.

This year, “we are expecting that we will be picking fruit in the Coachella Valley into the end of June,” she said. “The San Joaquin Valley will start probably the third week” of June, and by the fourth week, “we should have a lot of people going in the San Joaquin Valley. That is a good transition from one valley to the other. But from my perspective, we have a California table grape crop, and that begins in May, and we ship the final boxes into February.”

The 2013 California fresh grape crop exceeded expectations and came in at a record 116.2 million 19-pound boxes. The 2014 crop is officially estimated at 116.5 million boxes, which, if realized, would just edge out last year’s record.

The earlier start to the California grape season this year is giving growers a longer time to market their crop, said John Harley, vice president of sales and marketing at Anthony Vineyards Inc. in Bakersfield, CA, which has grapes in the Coachella Valley as well as the San Joaquin Valley. “There is not a lot of pressure forcing movement, so the prices have been stable,” he said. “It has been good thus far, and I really do see that moving into the Arvin district as well.”

Several California shippers are also involved in the Sonora spring grape deal which roughly coincides, timing-wise, with the Coachella deal. Most Sonora grapes are grown in the Hermosillo area and the Caborca area. Hermosillo, the earlier of the two districts, is not only trending early this spring but is packing out lighter than anticipated. Caborca, the later district, appears to have a more normal sized crop. “We think that will have the effect,” at least on green grape varieties, of providing “steady supplies and a stable market. We think that will transition nicely,” said Shaun  Ricks, vice president of Eagle Eye Grape Guys LLC in Visalia, CA.

Caborca should continue picking through around June 15-20 on Sugraones, and Arvin, traditionally the earliest district in the San Joaquin Valley, will start about that same time. “We do not anticipate that there will be significant inventories of Sugraones out of Mexico, so that could be a very seamless transition,” Ricks said.

On red grapes, “because the Hermosillo district is lighter, it is not going to carry over a lot of fruit into June. Therefore, the [Mexican] Flame supplies for the month of June must all come from Caborca, and the demand will be greater than that. Therefore, we expect that the Flame market will increase in price every week as we go through the month of June.” That increase has already started and was noticeable as early as May 27, he said.

The Grape Guys anticipated its first Sugraones in Arvin close to June 16, with Flames starting around June 23, he said.

Ricks was confident that California grape producers would set another volume record this year and that within a few short years, volume would exceed 125 million boxes, with the shipping season continuing to extend. “We will, as an industry, be commonly shipping through January 15,” he said. Some years, the San Joaquin Valley may finish up earlier, but “that will be the exception.”

 Most years, “with the ability to cover the vineyards and the ability to pick and put in pick tubs and pack at a later time as needed, so that the fruit is as freshly packed as possible, are things that are going to allow us to go later than ever. If I were the Chileans and the Peruvians, I would take heed and not try to be early. I think there is still a place for them, but I think that place is beginning more in February, with maybe a trickle in January,” he said.

“We like where we are as an industry,” Ricks added. “I think we are in a good position. We just have to manage it and be good stewards and make sure that the product we are shipping out is suitable.”

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

Early start, smooth transition seen for San Joaquin Valley grapes

The spring grape deals out of Sonora, Mexico, and California’s Coachella Valley both got off to an early start this year and are expected to finish earlier than usual for most varieties, but grape shippers anticipate a smooth transition from those districts into the San Joaquin Valley as the early vineyards in the San Joaquin are also ahead of schedule.

“At this point, it looks like we will be starting in the San Joaquin  Valley sometime the week of June 16,” said Kathleen Nave, president of the California Table Grape Commission. “Then we will be busy picking and packing probably into December, if the last two years are any indication, and shipping into February.”01-EarlySJV-CropThe 2014 California grape crop is forecast to total 116.5 million 19-pound boxes, which would edge out the previous record set in 2013. (Photo courtesy of the California Table Grape Commission)

One strength of the California table grape industry is “that it is such a long season,” said Nave. ”The fact that we started in Coachella Valley this year April 28 and will be picking grapes in California into December and shipping them into February is a tremendous strength in markets around the world.  So we need volume that begins in May and carries us all the way through that time period, because we have a lot of customers,” including retailers and foodservice operators around the world who want product on a consistent basis, and the more of that we can provide the better.”

For that reason, “it is critically important that we have fruit in the Coachella  Valley” in the spring “and that we have fruit in the San Joaquin Valley” early enough that there is “a seamless transition” from Coachella. That early San Joaquin Valley fruit carries from late spring into summer, “then that carries us into the fall, which carries us into the winter,” Nave said.

This year, “we are expecting that we will be picking fruit in the Coachella Valley into the end of June,” she said. “The San Joaquin Valley will start probably the third week” of June, and by the fourth week, “we should have a lot of people going in the San Joaquin Valley. That is a good transition from one valley to the other. But from my perspective, we have a California table grape crop, and that begins in May, and we ship the final boxes into February.”

The 2013 California fresh grape crop exceeded expectations and came in at a record 116.2 million 19-pound boxes. The 2014 crop is officially estimated at 116.5 million boxes, which, if realized, would just edge out last year’s record.

The earlier start to the California grape season this year is giving growers a longer time to market their crop, said John Harley, vice president of sales and marketing at Anthony Vineyards Inc. in Bakersfield, CA, which has grapes in the Coachella Valley as well as the San Joaquin Valley. “There is not a lot of pressure forcing movement, so the prices have been stable,” he said. “It has been good thus far, and I really do see that moving into the Arvin district as well.”

Several California shippers are also involved in the Sonora spring grape deal which roughly coincides, timing-wise, with the Coachella deal. Most Sonora grapes are grown in the Hermosillo area and the Caborca area. Hermosillo, the earlier of the two districts, is not only trending early this spring but is packing out lighter than anticipated. Caborca, the later district, appears to have a more normal sized crop. “We think that will have the effect,” at least on green grape varieties, of providing “steady supplies and a stable market. We think that will transition nicely,” said Shaun  Ricks, vice president of Eagle Eye Grape Guys LLC in Visalia, CA.

Caborca should continue picking through around June 15-20 on Sugraones, and Arvin, traditionally the earliest district in the San Joaquin Valley, will start about that same time. “We do not anticipate that there will be significant inventories of Sugraones out of Mexico, so that could be a very seamless transition,” Ricks said.

On red grapes, “because the Hermosillo district is lighter, it is not going to carry over a lot of fruit into June. Therefore, the [Mexican] Flame supplies for the month of June must all come from Caborca, and the demand will be greater than that. Therefore, we expect that the Flame market will increase in price every week as we go through the month of June.” That increase has already started and was noticeable as early as May 27, he said.

The Grape Guys anticipated its first Sugraones in Arvin close to June 16, with Flames starting around June 23, he said.

Ricks was confident that California grape producers would set another volume record this year and that within a few short years, volume would exceed 125 million boxes, with the shipping season continuing to extend. “We will, as an industry, be commonly shipping through January 15,” he said. Some years, the San Joaquin Valley may finish up earlier, but “that will be the exception.”

 Most years, “with the ability to cover the vineyards and the ability to pick and put in pick tubs and pack at a later time as needed, so that the fruit is as freshly packed as possible, are things that are going to allow us to go later than ever. If I were the Chileans and the Peruvians, I would take heed and not try to be early. I think there is still a place for them, but I think that place is beginning more in February, with maybe a trickle in January,” he said.

“We like where we are as an industry,” Ricks added. “I think we are in a good position. We just have to manage it and be good stewards and make sure that the product we are shipping out is suitable.”

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

JemD Farms and Agricola El Rosal transition to Red Sun Farms

JemD Farms and Agricola El Rosal have begun the final phases of their brand transition strategy, which will result in the group becoming Red Sun Farms.

The change has been ongoing for the past three years and has been designed to take advantage of the three company’s synergies including logos, corporate cultures and places emphasis on the well-known consumer brand.redsunfarms logo

Consumers are already familiar with “Red Sun,” the brand that has been on the company’s exclusive basket weave Artisan Series packaging, in the news and on the consumer table for over a decade.  

“Three years ago, it was one of our corporate goals to become a single entity,” Jim DiMenna, president of Red Sun Farms, said in a press release. “When Agricola El Rosal and JemD International announced their merger completion in 2010, our brand transition strategy was put into motion. Our expanding product and customer base determined the timeline which brings us to today. As we continue to grow and build more greenhouses across North America that further increases our retail business segment, we wanted to finalize our brand identity with one the consumer could identify with during and after their shopping experience. With this goal in mind, we’ve gone to our roots with Red Sun Farms.

“We are pleased to reach the next phase of our implementation strategy with our new name officially unveiled,” DiMenna added in the press release. “The goal of the brand transition strategy is to further connect with our consumers on all platforms, internally and externally. Our customers already identify and have placed their buying confidence in the ‘Red Sun’ brand, so this was a natural next step.”

“Having a synonymous trade name with a recognized consumer brand-name, has been our transitional B2B and B2C brand strategy for a few years now, and I am pleased to see it come to fruition,” Sabrina Pokomandy, marketing and public relations manager at Red Sun Farms, said in the press release.

Red Sun Farms grows tomatoes, Bell peppers and cucumbers in over 500 acres of state-of-the-art greenhouses in Canada, Mexico and the United States. It have received accolades such as one of the 50 Best Managed companies in Canada and most recently, was named one of the five top marketers and growers in the world at the Tomato Inspiration event.

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

JemD Farms and Agricola El Rosal transition to Red Sun Farms

JemD Farms and Agricola El Rosal have begun the final phases of their brand transition strategy, which will result in the group becoming Red Sun Farms.

The change has been ongoing for the past three years and has been designed to take advantage of the three company’s synergies including logos, corporate cultures and places emphasis on the well-known consumer brand.redsunfarms logo

Consumers are already familiar with “Red Sun,” the brand that has been on the company’s exclusive basket weave Artisan Series packaging, in the news and on the consumer table for over a decade.  

“Three years ago, it was one of our corporate goals to become a single entity,” Jim DiMenna, president of Red Sun Farms, said in a press release. “When Agricola El Rosal and JemD International announced their merger completion in 2010, our brand transition strategy was put into motion. Our expanding product and customer base determined the timeline which brings us to today. As we continue to grow and build more greenhouses across North America that further increases our retail business segment, we wanted to finalize our brand identity with one the consumer could identify with during and after their shopping experience. With this goal in mind, we’ve gone to our roots with Red Sun Farms.

“We are pleased to reach the next phase of our implementation strategy with our new name officially unveiled,” DiMenna added in the press release. “The goal of the brand transition strategy is to further connect with our consumers on all platforms, internally and externally. Our customers already identify and have placed their buying confidence in the ‘Red Sun’ brand, so this was a natural next step.”

“Having a synonymous trade name with a recognized consumer brand-name, has been our transitional B2B and B2C brand strategy for a few years now, and I am pleased to see it come to fruition,” Sabrina Pokomandy, marketing and public relations manager at Red Sun Farms, said in the press release.

Red Sun Farms grows tomatoes, Bell peppers and cucumbers in over 500 acres of state-of-the-art greenhouses in Canada, Mexico and the United States. It have received accolades such as one of the 50 Best Managed companies in Canada and most recently, was named one of the five top marketers and growers in the world at the Tomato Inspiration event.

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

Smithfield, Tyson Encouraging Transition Away From Gestation Crates

Major pork producers Smithfield Foods and Tyson Foods have both announced plans this week to develop animal welfare improvements within their facilities, including moving away from the practice of using sow gestation crates, small metal enclosures that hold pregnant female pigs for most of their adult lives.

Gestation crates have come under heavy criticism as inhumane for their use in large-scale animal farming, with the Humane Society of the United States leading efforts to have the practice discontinued.

Smithfield’s announcement put in place incentives for contract pork growers to shift to “group housing systems” for pregnant sows before 2022. After that, the company will only renew contracts with growers who have switched to the new system.

According to the announcement, the company has already transitioned 54 percent of sows on company-owned farms to the new system.

The Humane Society praised Smithfield’s move, saying that it put pressure on other major growers to do the same.

“The top producer is telling the world that a transition away from gestation crates is not just an aspiration, but is in the works, is economically viable, and is likely to be achieved in the near term. And we continue to help major food retailers commit to switching their purchasing to crate-free producers,” wrote Humane Society CEO Wayne Pacelle.

Tyson, in a letter to its pork suppliers sent Wednesday, said that it was asking all suppliers to improve “quality and quantity of space” for sows in any new or redesigned barns beginning in 2014.

“We believe future sow housing should allow sows of all sizes to stand, turn around, lie down and stretch their legs,” Tyson wrote.

The language of Tyson’s letter, however, does not mandate any such changes.

Tyson’s letter also urged growers to install video surveillance systems to “improve human behavior and animal handling,” alluding to incidences of animal abuse. The letter also discourages the continued use of blunt force to kill sick or injured piglets, referring to the practice of slamming piglets head-first into the ground.

“We recognize that this practice has been historically acceptable in the industry but may not match the expectations of today’s customers or consumers,” Tyson wrote.

Animal rights group Mercy for Animals said that Tyson’s move was in the right direction, but urged the company to fully mandate its suggestions.

“The pork industry’s use of gestation crates is one of the worst forms of institutionalized animal abuse in existence and we praise Tyson for acknowledging that this cruel system must be phased out,” the organization wrote.

More than 60 major food companies, including McDonald’s, Burger King, Safeway and Costco have demanded pork suppliers phase out gestation crates. Another major supplier, Cargill, has said it has gotten rid of 50 percent of its crates.

Gestation crates are banned in Arizona, California, Florida and Rhode Island, and five other states are requiring growers to phase them out. They are also banned in Sweden, Denmark and the United Kingdom, and will be banned in New Zealand by 2015 and Australia by 2017.

Food Safety News