Shelf-life extension technology reduces brown stems in grapes
Since commercializing their flagship shelf-life extension technology in 2016, Hazel Tech’s Hazel 100™ has proven to be very effective in the table grape category. “Our technology continues to drive a lot of value for grape growers/packers/shippers/importers, and retailers,” says Hazel Tech’s Mario Cervantes. “We brought a new solution to the industry that addresses a key, unmet consumer pain-point – unattractive brown stems.
How has Hazel’s work in the grape industry evolved?
Once grape growers realized that Hazel 100 could keep their stems green for more than 50 days, they quickly recognized the product’s potential for guiding preference and what it could mean for their sales. “As a result, from 2019 to today, we’ve expanded to work with one third of California grape growers, including some of the largest in the country.”
In 2022-2023, Hazel is adopting a more ‘global outlook’. On one hand, the company is in the process of gaining registration/access for their grape product in new markets, like Peru. “Successful trials with Vanguard have already taken place in the Ica region.” On the other hand, Hazel is focused on working with global customers to be a part of their supply loop both into the United States, and beyond.
A recent report from Fresh Cargo Peru identified a triple digit (119 percent) year-over-year increase in Peruvian grape imports to the US between week 21 and week 45 of the 2022-2023 season. Gaining registration in Peru would open up a lot of growth potential for local exporters and Hazel’s LATAM team.
What are the benefits of Hazel’s technology in grapes?
Hazel’s product for grapes, Hazel 100™, allows every stage of the supply chain, from grower to retailer, to maintain the perceived quality of their product and the value associated with it. The result is fresher looking grapes, increasing consumer sales.
Importers and exporters share that they are getting better prices for fruit that is protected with Hazel 100 versus boxes that aren’t. “While there are a lot of factors that contribute to the valuation of imported table grapes, ensuring green stems offers exporters a real, reliable, competitive advantage,” said Cervantes. Retailers benefit as they are able to incur higher sales while reducing waste.
“Consumers believe green stems are the truest indicator of freshness,” Cervantes said. By creating a product that bypasses consumer bias against brown stems and ensures everyone in the supply chain that their grape stems will remain consistently green, consumers will buy more. Some customers also credit the greener stems for causing less “shatter” as more berries are staying on the stems, offering reliability in transit.
Results of recent trials
One of Hazel’s most recent commercial trials in the US occurred with Grapeman Farms, a California table grape grower with global import programs throughout the Americas. The Grapeman team recognizes improved stem quality across multiple table grape varieties and colors.
“As an operation that supplies 365 days a year, long-term storage, either domestic or in import/export, is core to our business and something we’re really good at,” says Jared Lane, VP of Marketing at Grapeman Farms. However, regardless of how well the fruit is handled during storage or how great it tastes, stems have a tendency to dehydrate over time, which makes the grapes look less appetizing and less fresh. With Hazel 100™, we’ve found that our stems stay green and fresh longer. The longer they’re in storage, the more you see the results,” he added.
In Peru, a handful of trials have also shown positive results with Hazel 100™, with a noted delay in browning of the grape stems for grapes treated with Hazel’s solution. The protected fruit has maintained green stems after six to eight weeks in storage. “We carried out different tests and observed how the fruit arrived with and without the sachet. We have seen 56-day-old fruit [treated] with Hazel 100™ with green rachis,” shared Aline Perales, Business Development Manager Peru at Hazel Technologies.