Fresh Farms grows with grapes, extending availability

From The Packer | 7 February 2023

Overview of grapes from Mexico in the U.S. market, complemented by charts from Agronometrics. Original published on February 3, 2023. 

Helping retailers grow their sales through category management assistance is a strength of Rio Rico, Ariz.-based Fresh Farms, says David Watson, senior vice president of sales and marketing.

Fresh Farms is a large table grape grower in Mexico, and the marketer offers a wide range of fruits and vegetables with year-round availability. The firm also produces conventional and organic produce.

grape volumes by type in

Source: USDA Market News via Agronometrics.
(Agronometrics users can view this chart with live updates here)

Watson says the company is growing its grape volume both in Jalisco and also in Sonora.

Jalisco volume will begin in late March with green grape harvest there, Watson said. Total Mexican grape volume for the company should be close to 6.5 million cartons in 2023, up about a million cartons from a year ago.

Most of that volume is in preferred varieties, such as Cotton Candy, Candy Snaps, Candy Hears, Candy Dreams, Sweet Globes, Sapphires and more.

Fresh Farms also offers soft and hard squashes, green peppers, eggplant, cucumbers, corn, watermelon and other items.

Watson said Fresh Farms is growing its melons category. The company has noted rising demand for watermelons, some from fresh cut processors putting the fruit in clamshells and other packs.

“Watermelon consumption must be going up dramatically, because there’s a lot of demand for watermelon,” he said.

For all commodities, Fresh Farms is seeking to expand availability in response to customer requests, he said. Last year the company shipped more than 12 million boxes of produce, Watson said, up from about 2.8 million boxes in 2009.

“Our growth has been phenomenal, and we’re still growing,” he said. 

Category management services offered by Fresh Farms help retailers maximize sales, Watson said.

“What we’re learning in general is that helping the customers sell more is really beneficial for everyone,” he said. “And as a grower-shipper, we have information and knowledge that we can share with customers that many of them find very helpful.”

Retailers can gain from insights into production and timing, in addition to perspectives on bringing new products to market and other topics.

Demand for clamshell packaging is growing for the grape category, and pouch bags have positive traction for some vegetables, he said. Interest in top-seal clamshells is also growing, Watson said.

All aspects of the produce supply chain, including suppliers in Mexico, are dealing with higher costs, Watson said.

However, Mexico may be in a better overall position to deal with those costs, he said. Drought and labor problems in Mexico are not as severe as some parts of the U.S., he said.

“Mexico has a bigger opportunity to fill in more of those supply shortages, and that’s why we’re growing [with longer] seasons and growing the volume up a little bit.”

In other news, Fresh Farms has expanded its sales team in the Kingsburg, Calif. office and also opened an office in Miami, Watson said.

The News in Charts is a collection of stories from the industry complemented by charts from Agronometrics to help better tell their story.

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