Fruit Royale adds acreage, volume to California grape deal
With the addition of almost 900 acres to its California table grape deal in the San Joaquin Valley, Delano, CA-based Fruit Royale is flirting with the 2 million carton number.
“We added 897 acres of new plantings over the last couple of years of the newer varieties,” said Managing Partner Louie Galvan, who started the distribution company with his brother John in 2004. “These are first- and second-year plantings, so we are expanding exponentially. We’re getting close to 2 million boxes; we expect to hit 1.7 to 1.8 million this year.”
That is a great complement to Fruit Royale’s grape deals from Mexico, Peru and Chile. The four distinct growing regions and their production timing gives the firm a solid supply of grapes for its customer 365 days a year. Louie Galvan said the company’s customer list ranges far and near with a very big play in the export market, with those sales handled mostly by John.
From across the room and through the speaker phone, John revealed that their larger foreign buyers come from South and Central America, Indonesia and Korea, with significant sales to other Asian countries as well.
“Sometimes our export sales represent as much as 50 percent of our volume,” Louie said, adding that those sales were extremely important in July and early August when the California fruit entered the fray.
It was very well reported that Mexico’s spring deal was delayed by cold weather, pushing the volume well into July. The domestic market got a bit messy as supply exceeded demand.
“The California market was a little soft early on but we were able to plug a good portion our volume into the export pipeline,” Louie said. “Exports carried us through July and into August.”
Speaking to The Produce News August 16, Galvan said “right now, we (California producers) are hitting our stride. The market is pretty good and the chains are promoting the fruit. Retailers will have California grapes to promote from now through Thanksgiving.”
As California grape growers have shifted from the older standbys (Flame Seedless and Thompson Seedless) to many newer varieties, Galvan said the peak of the deal has shifted as well. “Most growers will tell you that their peak volume hits in September and moves into October. We will ship our last load between Christmas and New Years.”
Galvan said Fruit Royale has three good varieties at the end of the season that will take them down the home stretch: Autumn Royal for black grapes, Autumn King from greens and Alison for red grapes. “They are running the anchor leg for us,” he said. “And then we will move into Peru and Chile before starting our Mexico deal in the spring.”
In a very early look at the South American grapes, Galvan said Peru is expecting a very good season while Chile’s volume to the U.S. market is expected to be down significantly.
Galvan also made sure to note that Fruit Royale has added two new employees this year to its California team by including John Galavan’s son, Jonathon (JP) Galvin and Victor Ramirez.