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“Our programmed volume” of grapes out of Mexico “has actually quintupled for the upcoming season” over 2012, Louie Galvan, a partner in Fruit Royale Inc. in Delano, CA, said in an interview with The Produce News. “We will have grapes from the very beginning, starting with our Perlettes,” which were expected to begin harvest around the week of May 6, followed by Flames about mid-month.

“We brought a couple of sizeable growers on board, so we will have quite a bit more volume from beginning to end,” he said.

The company’s grapes are being grown in the Pesqueira and La Costa areas of Hermosillo, Sonora, as well as Caborca. “We have volumes coming from all three areas down there,” Mr. Galvan said.

08-MexGrapes-FruitRoyaleJohn Galvan and his brother, Louie Galvan, partners in Fruit Royale.New varieties coming on for Fruit Royale this year are black seedless varieties. “We will start off with a few Summer Royals early. Then we will have a few Unknowns in the middle of the deal and some Autumn Royals at the end. It is a full program. They work good for mixers,” he said.

Fruit Royale will have significant volume increases in Perlettes, Flames and Sugraones, he said. In addition, “we will have a sizeable amount” of Red Globes “toward the latter part of the deal.”

All of the grapes are being packed in the “Fruit Royale” label, Mr. Galvan said. Among the pack styles offered are zip closure bags as well as “a few of the gusseted stand-up bags.” The company has been packing the gusseted bags for four years in California, but “this will be our first year that we give it a shot out of Mexico,” he said. “We are seeing everybody asking for a little bit of it, and some customers are asking for it exclusively. We will have both options available.”

Mr. Galvan expects demand for the gusseted bag to continue to grow. “I do see that, down the road, only increasing,” he said. “Every year there seem to be more and more people asking about it.” The pack style works well for point-of-sales merchandising, and consumers like the convenience of the handle.

Fruit Royale, which also handles grapes from Chile, does not see any gaps in supply in the transition to Mexico this year, “on our end, anyway,” Mr. Galvan said. “We have a couple of late growers in Chile, down in the Buin district, that are just starting to harvest Crimsons and some of our later Thompsons and Globes. So for us, we don’t see any interruption in supply from when we finish up our late arrivals from Chile and move on into the first part of our Mexican program.” Supplies could be “a little sporadic” the first week, “but we don’t see any major gaps like we have seen in the past.”

There was currently “a lot of product in the warehouses from Chile, and demand is average at best,” he continued. “How long that product is going to hold up is going to be the key. Overall, quality-wise out of Chile, this year has left a lot to be desired.” Customers seem eager to switch over to grapes from Mexico or from California, he said. “We are thinking a lot of people are going to want to make the switch as quickly as possible, and we are right in the middle of our Chilean deal, so we know exactly what these guys are thinking. I think they are going to be happy to know that Nogales or Coachella have started. They are going to be anxious to move on to the next chapter.”