A sweet, colorful crop, the onset of summer and a couple of holiday promotions are whetting the appetites of table-grape marketing agents.
So goes the theory.
Sometimes, things just don’t seen to work out.
“For the longest time, the holiday to promote grapes for the Coachella-Mexico season was Memorial Day,” said Miguel Suarez, president of Rio Rico, Ariz.-based MAS Melons & Grapes LLC. “It comes in late May, so that was the biggest holiday for the Coachella-Mexico deal. But then the beginning of the harvest started getting a little later and later, and on Memorial Day, we didn’t have much to offer, so there weren’t many promotions.”
So, the target has shifted to the Fourth of July, particularly for green grapes, he said.
But, even that’s less than ideal, Suarez said.
“By then, Mexico and Coachella are almost done with red grapes,” he said.
There are always opportunities to market grapes in retail stores, though, said Jared Lane, sales manager, Stevco Inc., Los Angeles.
“The key is going to be the quality of the grape, its size, its color and its taste and its shelf life,” he said.
Freshness of the product is a key to a successful retail campaign, said Scott Terry, import/export sales manager, Malena Produce Inc., Nogales, Ariz.
“There’s only one way to promote them, and you have to look at what are the attributes against the other growing regions and/or the other grapes,” he said. “Your competition at that time is Chile, and the attribute you would have is fresh.”
If the product is good, it will move, said Steve Yubeta, salesman with Farmer’s Best International LLC, Nogales.
“I think the quality speaks for itself,” he said. “And, also, it speaks to the consistency, the volume that comes out of here, as well.”
Compelling displays help, Terry added.
“Colorful displays and price and making sure that we have competing quality when we ship it,” he said. “If you ship in a bad product that doesn’t eat well, you turn them off and turn them on to something else. So, it’s really important that our quality be consistent and right when we start.”
Omar Abu-Ghazaleh, imports manager of Pacific Trellis Fruit, Reedley, Calif., said he’s a believer in promoting multiple varieties.
“Different people can say different things, but all the research that has been done says carry as many varieties and colors in the same display,” he said. “That’s quite a successful method on promoting table grapes.”
An emphasis on ads wouldn’t hurt, either, Abu-Ghazaleh said.
Jerry Havel, sales and marketing director, Fresh Farms, Nogales, agreed with ad-focused approach.
“The best way to promote grapes is to really advertise that we have fresh new crop grapes that are not coming from Chile and not coming from cold storage,” he said. “They’re coming from the vine right to the store. It’s new crop and fresh. Anytime you can get something that’s fresher, it has a tendency to be healthier, better-tasting and get a little stronger demand.”
Atomic Torosian, partner in Fresno, Calif.-based Crown Jewels Marketing LLC, agreed marketing table grapes is a subjective pursuit.
‘Everybody has their own way,” he said. “I’ve seen tremendous displays that mix and match and offer a variety of colors and so much