Grapeman Farms optimistic about summer season
Notwithstanding the issues with “pallets and people,” Jared Lane, vice president of marketing at Grapeman Farms DBA Stevco, is optimistic that the California summer grape deal will be a solid one for the grower-shipper community.
“Right now, the grapes look extremely good,” he said. “I’d say we have an average to large crop.”
Grapeman started its summer harvest in June with Flame Seedless and had good volume by mid-July on many different varieties. Lane said the Mexico deal cleaned up nicely giving the California industry a relatively good opening market.
For the 2021 season, Grapeman is expecting to have more Ivory and Candy Snaps with Jack’s Salute and Great Green being its grapes with the most volume. Ivory and Great Green are greed seedless grapes while Candy Snaps and Jack’s Salute are red seedless. The company also offers many other varieties to carry it through the season.
Lane believes that while the United States has largely put COVID-19 in the rearview mirror, that is not the case around the world, and he expects the worldwide pandemic to impact California’s export grape sales.
“In the United States, retailers are ready to promote. They want to get their numbers back and we’re seeing lots of interest,” he said.
He noted that Grapeman Farms is helping by packing whatever retailers want. The company offers a variety of packs including bi-color and tri-color packs. He also noted that one-pound clamshells featuring the newer high flavor varieties and marketing them by their varietal name is gaining interest. He said the Candy Snap grape variety is making a good name for itself in the marketplace. Typically, retailers sell grapes by color but with the newer high-flavor varieties, packers often advocate for consumer sales by variety.
Though the drought has created a difficult situation with water, Lane said growers are finding the water they need, they just have to pay a lot more for it. “With water the issue is cost, but with pallets and people, we just can’t get enough,” he quipped.
The worldwide lumber shortage has been well reported. It has led to dwindling supplies and much higher costs for the wood that makes the pallets. People are another dwindling resource. All over the country employers are scrambling to fill various slots, and it is no secret that many farmworkers will take jobs in construction and in other industries given the opportunity.