While most of the Mexican grape deal ends up in traditional retail markets, shippers say the value-added segment is a growing part of the category.

“Grapes are a very important part of our fruit trays and fruit cups for traditional retailers, club stores, convenience stores, and schools. In addition to adding color to our fruit trays and cups, grapes add quality to the overall container and have a steady shelf life,” said Dennis Christou, vice president of marketing for Del Monte Fresh Produce, Coral Gables, Fla.

Natalie Erlendson, marketing manager for Sun World International LLC, Bakersfield, Calif., said value-added grape options are a growth opportunity.

“As a standalone fresh-cut item, pre-washed, destemmed grapes make an excellent grab-and-go item. When added to mixed fresh-cut fruits, grapes help add sweetness, flavor and color,” she said.

In addition, Erlendson said red and black grapes are the ideal grapes to include in fresh-cut packages, because they maintain freshness and color.

Fruit Royale Inc., Delano, Calif., packs a loose red seedless grape during its summer deal.

Louie Galvan, managing partner, said this market doesn’t seem to be affecting the regular fresh market.

“It’s just another avenue of the fresh market for grapes,” he said.

Value-added grapes fit into the overall growth of the fresh-cut product category, according to Christou.

“The fresh-cut segment continues to expand. As the distribution chain becomes more sophisticated and the various channels manage to tackle the proper handling process for fresh-cut products, we are confident that this segment will continue to expand,” he said in an e-mail.

Foodservice is also an important part of the grape fresh-cut business, something Galvan said is fairly one-sided in terms of varieties.

“The foodservice market is primarily geared to red seedless grapes,” he said.