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Fruit Royale makes switch to pouch bags for grapes

Fruit Royale Inc. in Delano, CA, has been packing some of its grapes in gusseted stand-up bags, also commonly referred to as pouch bags, for about the last four years for some of its grapes in California.

The company has seen steady growth in demand for the new packaging, with some customers now asking for it exclusively, according to Louie Galvan, a partner in the company.

10-EarlySJV-Fruit-RoyalePartners John Galvan and Louie Galvan of Fruit Royale.This spring, Fruit Royale also began packing the pouch bags in its Mexican grape program.

“We started packing that exclusively out of Mexico about the 13th of May, and we plan on keeping that throughout the summer here,” Galvan said in an interview with The Produce News.”We will have supplies of that in all colors [of grapes] on a regular basis.”

Fruit Royale expected to begin its San Joaquin Valley grape harvest around July 1, “give or take a day or two,” beginning with Flames, Galvan said. “That will be followed closely by Summer Royal. Typically we start the Summer Royal about a week after our Flames, so I would imagine we will have Summer Royals by July 6 or 7.”

The company doesn’t have any really early green (also known as white) grape varieties in the San Joaquin Valley. “Our first white is not till we get to the Princess, which is another three weeks down the road,” he said. Fruit Royale typically starts harvesting Princess toward the end of July, and this year the season seems to be running a bit earlier than normal and definitely earlier than in 2012, which ran about a week later than normal.

At one point, it appeared “based on our spray schedule,” that the harvest may start as much as 10 days ahead of last year. But then the weather cooled off and slowed down the maturity a little.

The company will have some increases in grape volume this year due to young plantings coming into production. But “our increase seems to be in the back end — late fall into November and December,” Galvan said. But for the early part of the season, there are no changes in producing acreage.

Fruit Royale will see some overlap in its Mexican program and the start of the San Joaquin Valley harvest. “We’ll have our hands full” with grapes from Mexico “until at least the second week of July,” he said.