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Top Brass continues to expand grape options for its customers

topbrass2020 With the fresh table grape harvest now underway in the San Joaquin Valley, Bakersfield, CA-based Top Brass produce is showing off its expanded volume of newer varieties with the expectation that it will add more to the list next year.

On the first day of July, President Brett Dixon reported on the company’s offerings for the 2020 season. “We offer our customers a good mix of green, red, and black grapes both conventionally and organic. Our red seedless grape varieties include Flames, Scarlet Royal, Timco, Jack’s Salute, Krissy, Sweet Scarlet and Allison. Our green seedless varieties include Sugraone, Ivory, Princess, Great Green, Sweet Globe, Luisco, and Autumn King. Our black grape selection includes Summer Royal and Sweet Sapphire.”

He added that Top Brass “will also be offering some incredibly high-flavored varieties this season with more to come in the next year. This year we will be offering Candy Snaps, Candy Crunch, Candy Drop, and a new black variety, Gracenote. Next season we will add Candy Hearts and Sweet Bond to that mix.”

As noted, Top Brass participates in both the conventional and organic grape aisles. Dixon said the organic acreage and offering has increased in each of the past several years in order to meet the demand of their customers and consumers. “We look for this trend to continue in the future,” he said.

Top Brass began harvesting during the week of July 6. Discussing the vineyards about a week before that, the company president said the expectations were for excellent quality and sufficient supply to offer its customer’s promotional opportunities all season long. He did offer the caveat that green grape supplies would be a little bit light in July. “The valley saw more rain in April this season than in the last decade,” Dixon said. “We did far more fungicide applications this season than usual to stay on top of any potential concerns there. This will set us apart from others who may not have been on top of those applications as they were needed or as they may have budgeted for in their crops. This is one of the reasons you will see lower availability in the industry on green grapes in particular.”

But taking a long view look of the entire season, the grape industry veteran predicted that there will be the ability to promote each color throughout the season, with even higher volumes of reds mid-September through October and green late August through October for the larger promotions. He said f.o.b. pricing appears to be a bit higher than last season, largely because the San Joaquin Valley district is starting off with the lighter green grape volume in July.

As the season wears on, Dixon expects the normal pattern to take over. “At this point we are looking to continue to sell high quality grapes through November. We have an excellent farming department behind all of us in sales and they will be keeping a close eye on the crop and weather as we move through the summer and into fall. One thing is for certain, we do not compromise on the quality of the grapes that are sent out to our customers. We are a multi-generational California family farm and are very proud to provide only the highest quality grapes to our customers and consumers. We do not have a corporate mentality of farming or pre-set budgets. Our farming division does everything the vineyards require to adapt to the changing conditions each year to produce only the very best quality of table grapes without the restraints that some other corporate farms may entail.”

Top Brass reports that it has received excellent reviews on its branded bag program and will continue to deliver on its top quality process. “We are going to continue to focus on our brand this year and look forward to exceeding customer expectations. We will be offering the Candy Snaps, Candy Crunch and Candy Drops in 10 x 2-pound clamshells with updated labeling and designs.”

Like every other U.S. business, Top Brass Produce has had to deal with the changing environment caused by the novel coronavirus, COVID-19. The company was able to bring its staff safely back to work in May, utilizing facemasks, temperatures taken each morning and implementing social distancing. “We have implemented enhanced protocols and training in the fields and in the offices,” Dixon said. “Everyone at Top Brass from the office staff to the farming department to our workers in the vineyards are taking the situation very seriously and are following the guidance of national and local agencies.”

He added that one inconvenient, but necessary change involves the showing of its fruit to customers. “It will be more time consuming this season as we will only allow one person at a time into our showroom and then disinfect the room each time before another person comes in. In the past, it wasn’t uncommon to have a dozen people in our showroom at any given time. Currently that appears to be the only impact we expect to see as we have already been successfully continuing to be part of the food supply solution that the world needs right now. In regard to sales, we have seen more demand on all of our commodities and are seeing that continue as we head into our July harvest.”

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