Suppliers offer variety for berry patch displays - The Packer

Suppliers offer variety for berry patch displays

02/25/2013 10:07:00 AM
Tom Burfield

Major Southern California strawberry grower-shippers typically offer customers a selection of other berries to provide them with one-stop berry shopping.

Watsonville, Calif.-based Well-Pict Inc. launched a raspberry program in Southern California for the first time last year, which the company will continue to expand, said sales manager Dan Crowley.

The program enables Well-Pict to have production during January, February and March, when there previously was a gap in its year-round production.

The proprietary raspberry program out of Watsonville was well-received and picked up momentum as the season progressed, Crowley said.

“But we lost that momentum when we came into this time period,” he said.

Now the company hopes to be able to continue that momentum with its Oxnard deal.

“It’s in its infancy, but we’ve had some very positive results,” he said. “It’s going to be an increasing part of our program.”

Besides its strawberry program, Salinas, Calif.-based Red Blossom Sales Inc. has seasonal blueberry and blackberry programs, said Michelle Deleissegues, director of marketing.

“It makes it nice for our customers to be able to load all their items,” she said.

“We’ve been fortunate to find some quality growers that we like working with and are able to offer more of a berry patch, full-product line along with our strawberries.”

The company offers blueberries grown under hoops at Chas Nakama Ranch Inc. in Camarillo, Calif., near Oxnard, as well as blackberries grown in Mexico.

Blackberry quality has been good, she said. They should be available until the end of June.

“We are loading those on a daily basis out of McAllen (Texas),” she said.

Red Blossom Sales’ blueberry volume was starting to ramp up in late January and was expected to be up to speed by mid-February.

Early volume was light because of cold weather, but size was amazing and the quality is excellent, Deleissegues said.

“They’re some of the best blueberries you can find,” she said.

They should be available until early June.

Driscoll Strawberry Associates Inc., Watsonville, offers blueberries year-round sourcing from several locations, including California, Oregon, Washington, Argentina, Mexico, Chile and British Columbia, according to its availability guide.

The company offers raspberries year-round sourcing from California and Mexico; golden raspberries from Watsonville April to December; and blackberries year-round from California, Georgia, North Carolina, the Pacific Northwest and Mexico.

Driscoll’s also offers organic blueberries, blackberries and raspberries.

Over the past five years, Watsonville-based California Giant Inc. has been making inroads in the blueberry and blackberry categories by expanding into additional districts and increasing volume to become a year-round supplier, said Cindy Jewell, director of marketing.

The company ships blackberries from California and Mexico and blueberries from California, the Pacific Northwest and Chile.

Naples, Fla.-based Naturipe Farms LLC grows blueberries in all the major production areas in the U.S. and South America, said Robert Verloop, executive vice president of marketing.

Volume has continued to expand along with production of the company’s proprietary varieties, he said.

“We’re finding more demand for the 18-ounce and larger sizes,” he said.

Naturipe also offers blackberries and raspberries year-round.

Blackberries are the company’s fastest-growing berry percentagewise, and acreage of the firm’s many proprietary varieties of raspberries has been increasing significantly for the past three years, he said.

Verloop said he expects to see volume of all four berries continue to expand.

The company also produces fresh cranberries.



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