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Grapeco Farms looks forward to Mexican grape season

By
Keith Loria

Mexican grapes are one of the strongest production areas for Grapeco Farms, a Delano, CA-based company that was founded by industry veterans Jared Lane and Robert Cadena.

“We have a large amount of grapes from start to finish, and it’s one of the better varietal makeups,” said Lane, who serves as CEO of the company. “We’ve been redeveloping and planting new vineyards in a huge abundance over the last 4-6 years.”

Grapeco is one of the first farms to get started with the early sheet, and also one of the last to finish.

“We have a good program and have a heavy organic program also that runs from start to finish,” Lane said. “All of the newer varieties—high-flavor varieties that we planted—have been planted organically, which gives us a strong organic program.”

Originally, the company expected the Mexican grape season to begin on time, but due to a cold March, it’s now projected that harvesting will start around the middle of the week of May 13, though some fruit may be ready a few days before.

“I’m hoping that we get a warm April, which will allow us to start a little more volume sooner,” Lane said.

Over the last eight months in the grape industry, there’s been a global shortage, so all markets have seen a huge demand for grapes.

“The pipeline here in the U.S. has stayed short of supply, so that creates a market that’s been higher than normal,” Lane said. “The demand for fresh fruit, especially grapes, has been a lot more than the supply can meet. Chile is packing out shorter than normal, somewhere between 10-20 percent, and Peru packed out short. That created a void and it hasn’t been fun.”

The challenging import season has been tough on retailers and suppliers, and Grapeco is no exception.

“You try to fill everyone as much as you possibly can, and hopefully you don’t hurt anyone’s feelings,” Lane said. “The supply is what it is and we can’t help that everyone is short.”

Grapeco has still enjoyed strong business over the last year, with Lane noting movement has been good and there’s been extremely good grapes out of California. The company has a strong California program with a lot of very good, newer flavored varieties

“We had a little hurricane come through that did a little bit of damage, but there was still fruit to be had,” Lane said. “Having ranches spread from Arvin to Madera, ensures more constant supply if one part of the valley is affected by weather.”

The company has recently added on some new growers and expects to continue to grow its business in California. It’s also added some new team members.

“Our growth isn’t necessarily all number-based, we want to grow in quality,” Lane said. “The mission statement we had when we started Grapeco is ‘Quality over Quantity,” and we want to offer the best grapes to our customers 52 weeks a year.”

That’s the continued goal for Grapeco as it works to be a force to be reckoned with in the industry.

“It’s been a pretty fun ride,” Lane said. “We’ve been able to open a number of doors.”

Keith Loria

Keith Loria

About Keith Loria  |  email

A graduate of the University of Miami, Keith Loria is a D.C.-based award-winning journalist who has been writing for major publications for close to 20 years on topics as diverse as real estate, food and sports. He started his career with the Associated Press and has held high editorial positions at magazines aimed at healthcare, sports and technology. When not busy writing, he can be found enjoying time with his wife, Patricia, and two daughters, Jordan and Cassidy.

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