Jalisco grape production is underway
The Jalisco grape deal started about March 20, according to Michael DuPuis, who heads quality assurance and public relations for Divine Flavor, a vertically integrated fruit and vegetable company based in Nogales, AZ. Jalisco will be shipping until about May 10.
FreshFruitPortal.com spoke with DuPuis March 22 in Tubac, AZ, during the Sonoran table grape preseason meeting. For Divine Flavor, “in Jalisco we just started with Cotton Candy a couple days ago. We’re going to start Jellyberries in here later this week.”
Divine Flavor and Fresh Farms, both headquartered in Hermosillo, with distribution and sales in the Nogales area, are the two leading Mexican table grape producer-marketers and the two companies to expand south into Jalisco from traditional production in Sonora to have an earlier deal.
DuPuis said this is Divine Flavor’s fifth year of production in Jalisco. “So, we have another year under our belt. Right now, things are looking great. We’re not seeing a lot of volume as far as numbers of bunches. But the bunches we’re seeing have a lot of good quality, a lot of good brix. We saw the brix on Jellyberries the other day come in over 20.” Divine Flavor’s Jalisco production is candy-type premium flavored varieties including Cotton Candy, Jellyberries and Sweet Celebration.
“The only red we’re really doing in Jalisco is the Sweet Celebration.” Beyond Cotton Candy and Jellyberries, Divine Flavor’s key flavorful green varieties in Jalisco are Sweet Globe and Autumn Crisp, “which we are very fond of.” The firm is rapidly increasing Autumn Globe production. He describes this as an excellent white seedless grape, with big bunch size and big berry size.
As Jalisco harvests until about May 10, Chile will still be in production in April. Far beyond its Mexican roots, Divine Flavor also markets Chilean grapes. But this spring, DuPuis says, “won’t be too much of a competition for us just because it’s different fruit. Especially with our partners, there’s an understanding, there’s a communication and strategy as far as which varieties we do and which varieties they’re doing at the end of their season.”
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“As Jalisco finishes, we’ll have a bit of a gap in grape production until the traditional Mexico grape season starts in Sonora. Though there will be this slight pause during the season, both Divine Flavor and our retailers will be eager to start the Sonora season. Especially because the first shipments of organic grapes will be hitting markets.” He explains that Grupo Alta, which owns Divine Flavor, is the largest producer of Mexican organic table grapes,” and our customers will be excited to get them once those first shipments start. Another perk is they are all Fair Trade certified.”
Sonora will be a little bit delayed this spring and will start in the third week of May, DuPuis said.
He noted that, since 2013, Divine Flavor, Grupo Alta and its grower community have generated more than $9 million in Fair Trade premiums. Last year alone, the company saw more than $1 million generated and this is due to a year-by-year growth in the Fair Trade programs- a significant contribution deriving from their table grape season.
Moving into the 2023 Sonora season, the company is expected to improve upon those numbers. “Every May-July, we are excited for the table grape season. It is always an opportunity for us to improve our craft and supply our customers with the products they’ve come to expect of us. Our grapes have built a reputation of being the best tasting table grapes on the market. All of which are produced in an organic and sustainable manner, and Fair Trade certified.”