Those who face the daily thrill and challenges of selling and marketing table grapes say they wouldn’t have it any other way.
“Grapes are a great item to sell,” said Steve Kenfield, vice president of marketing for HMC Group Marketing Inc., Kingsburg, Calif.
“The best product to sell is one where consumption is growing as opposed to declining,” he said. “The benefit grapes have is that consumption is growing, and the potential to further accelerate the growth of consumption is definitely there.”
Grapes are available year-round, kids and adults love them, and they “don’t face a lot of consumer disappointment,” he said.
Dave Clyde, president of Stevco Inc., Beverly Hills, Calif., said he can’t think of a downside to selling grapes.
“Everyone seems to love grapes,” he said, adding that they’re considered among the premier fruits that one can market.
“You get a thrill from setting up an ad and selling a product that people like and is good for them,” he said. “It’s nice to be able to sell something that’s healthy and that people enjoy eating.”
Selling produce in general is a lot of fun, said Jim Llano, sales manager for Castle Rock Vineyards, Delano, Calif.
But selling table grapes is particularly appealing, in part because there remains “an anticipated seasonality” to the product, and because grapes continue to generate strong interest at trade and consumer levels.
“In terms of a product that is fun, convenient and nutritious, grapes have it all,” he said. “From kids to grownups, there aren’t many people who don’t enjoy grapes as a snack or as part of the main meal.”
All of these factors continue to contribute to the growth of grapes as an export item and as a favorite fruit throughout the U.S., he said.
Individual companies as well as universities have developed new varieties that aren’t just pleasing to the eye for their size and color, he said, but they eat well and prompt repeat purchases because consumers enjoy the product.
Other than the everyday challenges of battling imbalances of supply and demand and communicating the value of one’s product, Kenfield said, there are no major challenges to selling table grapes.
“It’s all based on what you have to offer,” he said.
“If you’re dependable, you can help a customer grow their business, and you can make their life simpler,” Kenfield said, “that’s what people are looking for.”
Clyde admitted that there’s a lot of competition when it comes to selling grapes, and he said volume could near the 100-million carton mark in California this season.
But Stevco has built up a strong customer base over the years and developed a reputation for quality and good product, he said. And there’s plenty of worldwide potential.
“You’re not only selling the United States, but you’re selling the world,” he said. “The world is a big market.”
Like selling any produce item, selling grapes isn’t like selling a manufactured product with an inventory that can be adjusted to meet demand, Llano said.
“Challenges of weather, conflicting markets or overlap early or late in season are all part of the challenges that we deal with,” he said. “But they make it a fun industry to be in.”