The Chuck Olsen Co. Inc. in Visalia, CA, is in the fresh grape business pretty much year round, with product from Chile, Mexico and California — the company’s main deal comes out of California.
In Mexico, “we are not monsters down there,” said Jeff Olsen, president. “We have about 100,000 boxes total,” consisting of about 70 percent red seedless grapes and about 30 percent green seedless, with “a few blacks mixed in there.” The red grapes are all Flames, and the greens are Sugraones. The program is the same as last year.
The company’s Mexican grape deal “helps kick start our deal up here in [California’s] Central Valley,” he said.
“It sounds like Mexico is going to have decent volume” this year, probably starting around the week of May 6, “depending on what the weather does between now and then,” he said. As for Chuck Olsen Co.’s program, he expected to start the second week of May.
“Obviously, we are hoping for great quality, like we had last year,” he said. Having good quality “all throughout the whole grape season” last year “was obviously a plus” and “helped us sell everything.”
With the quality issues Chilean grapes have had this year, “I think people will be happy to receive something that is of good quality” and that eats well, he said. “Retailers will be wanting to promote, and as long as we’ve got the right fruit, I am sure they will.”
All of Chuck Olsen Co.’s Mexican grapes are coming from one grower in Hermosillo that the company has been working with for around eight years. The label will be “Top Stock.”
Typically, The Chuck Olsen Co. is able to stretch out its Mexican grape program to avoid gaps in production, Mr. Olsen said. The company’s California harvest generally starts around July 4.