California’s organic stone fruit deal, but a warming trend in early June has the fruit ready to pop. With that backdrop, the summer fruit season will begin in earnest over the coming weeks.
“We had a hiccup with the rain and lost some early fruit but that’s all behind us,” said Levon Ganajian, director of retail relations for Trinity Fruit Company Inc., which has its packing shed in Reedley, CA. “Peaches, nectarines, plums, apricots…they are all ready to go.”
Leon Ganajian, Director of Retail Relations, Trinity Fruit Co.
Ganajian said Trinity Fruit will have double the volume of organic fruit that it had last year and will continue to increase its production over the next couple of years. “In a couple of years, we should be at a million cartons,” he said, adding that this year’s volume is coming from about 1,000 San Joaquin Valley acres.
The organic sector represents about 15 percent of Trinity’s stone fruit production, with a 25 percent share very realistic in coming years.
For this season, Ganajian said there is expected to be an increase in organic stone fruit throughout the valley and predicted that there will be promotable supplies from mid-June through July of many of the items. “It’s been a struggle the last few weeks, but we will have decent volume moving forward,” he said, adding that Trinity will have organic tree fruit through August.
While the grower-packer-shipper has greatly increased its production of organic white flesh fruit, he said the best deals will probably be available on yellow peaches. “There are 38 states that grow peaches and many of them have some organic production. Yellow peaches should offer the best ad opportunities,” Ganajian said.
Speaking in late May to OPN, Stephen Paul of Homegrown Organic Farms, Porterville, CA, agreed that mid-June would see the start of the organic stone fruit deal in full gear. He said the late May storm, which brought hail to the San Joaquin Valley with very low temperatures, slowed the start of the deal but it appears warm weather has taken over since then. The valley experienced some 100-plus degree days this week which helped bring the fruit on. He noted in May that all organic stone fruit categories – peaches, nectarines, plums, pluots and apricots – should be in good supply by mid-June.
Stephen Paul, Homegrown Organic Farms
Mike Hill, a salesman for Wawona Packing Co., Cutler, CA, had a very similar report to the others. He agreed that peaches offered the best opportunity for ad promotions in the organic stone fruit aisle throughout the season but said other fruits should also have promotable pricing from time to time.
The stone fruit deal is dominated by ever-changing varieties, each with its niche. As different varieties are ready to pick, there should be ad opportunities for organic production as volume ebbs and flows. At one point, a tree fruit federal marketing order organization kept close tabs on each variety predicting start dates and total volume. But that detailed industry-wide information is no longer available causing a bit of a guessing game as the different varieties come into play.
This week, Hill said yellow peaches are in very good supply but “we have a full slate right now.”
He said Wawona does have more organic tree fruit than last season, with peach supplies available into October, and other stone fruits with organic production lasting until mid-September. Hill said the organic pricing structure started out high at the start of the season but is starting to drop as supplies increase.