(March 28) VISALIA, Calif. — Sun Fresh International LLC has become the exclusive sales agent for the 1,100-acre Arizona Desert Vineyards ranch in Dateland, Ariz., and will ship 700,000 cartons of table grapes from the ranch this spring.

About 80% of the crop will be organically grown and marketed under the Pavich organic label, said Darrel Fulmer, partner in Sun Fresh International. Pavich Family Farms has closed its marketing operation, and Sun Fresh purchased rights to the label, Fulmer said. Last year, under bankruptcy court orders, Sun World International Inc., Bakersfield, Calif., was allowed to sell Pavich’s 2001 crop.

The Arizona Desert Vineyards crop will be shipped from about May 20 to the Fourth of July. It includes perlette, thompson and flame grapes.

YEAR-ROUND DISTRIBUTOR

Fulmer said some of the Arizona acreage would be used to grow raisins.

He said the reason for taking on the desert grape crop it that it provides a niche sales period for Sun Fresh International. The grapes ripen after the Chilean season and before California’s San Joaquin Valley season.

It also makes Sun Fresh International a year-round distributor of table grapes. The company, now in its third year, also distributes tree fruit.

Sun Fresh International is both an importer and exporter of fruit. It imports grapes from Mexico and Chile.

It ships grapes to Asia and Europe, Fulmer said.

SALSES STAFF AUGMENTED

The company has hired a salesman, Mark Monroe, formerly a salesman for Monroe & Sons Produce Distributors, Bakersfield, Calif., to help in domestic distribution, effective April 1.

Monroe joins Mike Shuklian in the domestic sales department.

Mike Burchett handles international sales for Sun Fresh International. About 20% of the company’s grapes are exported, Fulmer said.