Vanguard International said the recent 2021-22 season for table grapes from Peru was “one of the best performing produce seasons yet”, in terms of fruit condition, with excellent weather and strong demand everywhere. Logistical issues were the main challenge.
Demand for table grapes from Peru was strong until recently, benefiting from an early release of California fruit and a late arrival of Chilean table grapes. New green seedless varieties still enjoy strong demand and are less susceptible to dramatic price declines, the company said.
Harvesting ended on March 8, but the company said a third of its crop was still on its way to its destination due to supply chain delays, which the company said was l one of the most dramatic ever recorded.
“Despite so much positive feedback on the vine, this season has been the toughest our industry in general has ever faced from a global export market perspective,” the statement said.
Long transit times, port congestion, delayed deliveries, lack of trucks and drivers have all contributed to this challenge.
“We’ve heard stories from others who have had their shipments stay on a ship for 17 days, adding to the 21-day transit time,” the statement said.
The company said the complications forced it to make improvements in efficiency from the field level. For green varieties, this meant changes in the management of cluster placement.
“This has been revised to ensure quality canopy cover over the clusters to avoid amber spots or sunburn. We chose at a high point to optimize shelf life and our selection process was much faster,” the statement said.
Changes to the packing plant have also allowed it to reduce storage and shipping times by 5-7 days, which has allowed the company to mitigate some of the supply chain delays.
The company also said it was conducting a transparency process with its working structure and local authorities.
“The position we have taken with the community is to give an alternative voice to manage the work in the right way. Our key management team has been very engaged with local union leaders and authorities to address concerns and make improvements,” the statement added.