Argentina should carry the import blueberry deal through most of November, with Chile beginning to take over in December, said Mike Bowe, vice president of Dave’s Specialty Imports Inc., Coral Springs, Fla.
The deal should ramp up slowly but by January be relatively on track, Bowe predicted.
“It looks like a regular season.”
The freezes should not affect the quality or fruit size in this year’s crop, Bowe said.
Despite the freeze damage, U.S. retailers can still count on plenty of Chilean fruit this season, particularly once the southern growing regions, which weren’t hit as hard, come into production, said Brian Bocock, vice president of product management for Naturipe Farms LLC, Naples, Fla.
“There are still plenty of opportunities, especially in February and March,” Bocock said. “And there will be some in January, conventional and organic.”
Because of where many of Naturipe’s organic Chilean blueberry plantings are located, the company’s organic production out of the country likely will be higher this season, Bocock said.
“Organic could be up a fair amount.”
Conventional production, by contrast, should be similar to last season or even down, Bocock said.
Because’s Naturipe’s production is spread out across Chile, and therefore representative of the industry as whole, Bocock said he expects production industrywide to be similarly flat or slightly down in 2013-14.
For Naturipe, the import blueberry deal in November should be dominated by Argentina, Bocock said.
In December, the company expects to begin flying product in from Chile that typically would come by boat in January.
Because of delays caused by the September freezes, the first vessel shipments won’t make it to the U.S. in time for some customers, Bocock said.
“Retailers will want product for the holidays,” he said.