Stevco Inc., which is headquartered in Los Angeles and has branch offices in Bakersfield and Coachella, CA, as well as a seasonal office in Nogales, AZ, expects volume in its Mexican grape program this year to be up a little bit, according to Jared Lane, vice president of sales and marketing.
“Last year we did about 1.6 million [boxes]. This year we will do about 1.8 million boxes,” he said.
The increase is a result of additional acreage from the company’s existing growers, Mr. Lane said. “We market [grapes from] about 11 different ranches in Hermosillo and Caborca,” in Sonora, Mexico.
The increased volume this season will be in Flame, Princess and Summer Royal varieties. The company also handles Perlettes, Red Globes and some other varieties. “Our biggest variety is Flames,” followed by Sugraones, Mr. Lane said.
Stevco exports a majority of its Red Globes and some of the seedless varieties as well, he said.
The crop size this year looks normal, and the timing appears to be about two to five days later than normal, Mr. Lane said. “We should start up with Perlettes around the eighth or 10th of May,” with Flames and black seedless starting about the same time
With regard to packaging, “we pretty much pack every type of pack there is —clamshells and bags, all the different sizes, fixed-weight bags, variable-weight bags,” he said. “There has been a push from the retail side to pack in the higher-clarity bag, which has been probably the biggest talk of the off-season.” In response, “instead of doing polyethylene bags, we are doing polypropylene, which has better clarity” and helps the grapes to “look a lot better on the shelf.”
The cost of the polypropylene bags is about double that of the polyethylene, he said. “Instead of three cents, they are about six cents.” But it is “what the retailers want.”
Stevco packs its grapes under the “Grape Man” and “Super Grape” labels, he said.
Members of the Stevco sales team “travel to Nogales for the season, so we are on site” for the deal, Mr. Lane said. “We are a very hands-on oriented company. We are able to adjust extremely fast due to that fact.” One of the strongest selling points for the company’s Mexican program is that “we travel down there,” he said. “We have on-site sales people,” as well as other employees, including those who handle quality control and logistics.