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Divine Flavor's Jelly Berry a few weeks from delighting consumers

ENSENADA, BAJA NORTH — Divine Flavor has reviewed market reports and cultural trends to most-effectively position its Jelly Berry proprietary table grape variety to attract retail consumer interest.

The Nogales, AZ-based company can’t ship its Jelly Berry variety produced in Mexico until that harvest season begins in late May.Alan-Aguirre-Jr-CB2-Dennis-Hay-Magnifico-Viva-Organica Alan Aguirre Jr., Carlos Bon Jr. and Dennis Hay.

The Produce News discussed Jelly Berry marketing during an April visit to Divine Flavor’s Ensenada, North Baja, organic greenhouse vegetable operation. The entourage included Alan Aguirre Jr., who heads marketing for the family-owned business, and his cousin Carlos Bon Jr., Divine Flavor’s sales manager. Dennis Hay, senior sales executive, also added to the experience.

Aguirre said recent research is leading to the most effective “art on our bags and what to communicate on the grapes.”

He noted, “The Jelly Berry has a unique taste that is derived from ancient Concord varieties and crossbred to present the Jelly Berry.”

Aguirre added, “It is a seedless, high-quality, high-premium grape. The flavor is as special as the Cotton Candy, as the Gummy Berry and the Early Tropical Divine.”

Through consumer research, “we’ve been trying to pick up some opinions on what is the taste of it? Mostly, we’re getting consumer tasting opinions. The most common is the sweet jelly grape taste. It’s like a jelly burst. Most of the mom-shopper consumers really loved the grape — especially because they wanted to have it as a substitute for sugary snacks for their kids’ lunch.”

Jelly Berry provides a new type of colored grape, beyond green and reds, Bon added. “We’re basically trying to get them onto new stuff, new ideas, based on popular opinion, and trying to fulfill their needs, and give them something in return for the extra value of the product. It’s a more-expensive grape, but this more-expensive grape gives us more flavor and it’s a specialty variety; as unique as the Cotton Candy flavor. It’s purple and it’s colored. It’s a dark purple. It’s not a black, nor a red. It’s dark purple. It’s a very specialized flavor.”

Bon added that the Jelly Berry “is expensive because it’s not high-yielding and it’s expensive to grow, of course. Plus, there’s a royalty involved in it and we have to pay the breeder. And so, at the end of the day, it’s more expensive on a per-pound basis. But it’s definitely worth it. That’s where the research has taken us to see how we present it. How we package it. Alan and his team have come up with very good ideas that we’re going to come out with it this coming season.”

The consumer research is running very close to the late May and early June grape harvest date. Thus, the packaging will need to be flown to Mexican packinghouse from Divine Flavor’s offshore packaging sources. “We knew from the get-go that we’d be a little late with the materials.”

Bon said Jelly Berry samples for interested consumers “are coming from our partners in Chile. In Chile, it’s planted commercially but it’s not commercial yet, so the samples were brought from a test plot. In the case of Peru, we have a little bit of commercial production and we had the first shot of Jelly Berry production this year. And the feedback from the producers and consumers we asked was tremendous.”