Importers reported normal volumes of Mexican and Chilean raspberries and Mexican blackberries, with blackberry demand strong and raspberry demand expected to pick up for Valentine’s Day pull.
Weekly raspberry volumes in late January and early February were similar to last year’s for Dave’s Specialty Imports Inc., Coral Springs, Fla., said Mike Bowe, the company’s vice president.
Quality and sizing have been normal. Bowe wishes he could say the same for demand, though the turning of the calendar to February provided some measure of optimism.
“Demand hasn’t been as brisk as normal, and I don’t know why,” he said Feb. 1. “There’s normally a good pull for Valentine’s Day. Hopefully it will pick up in the next couple of weeks.”
On Jan. 31, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported prices of $22-24 for flats of 12 6-ounce cups of raspberries from Mexico, down from $28-30 last year at the same time.
Dave’s Specialty Imports was bringing in product from Mexico and Chile the week of Jan. 30, with the two regions splitting the deal about 50/50. Mexican raspberry shipments have been slightly up this winter compared to last season, Bowe said. Chilean shipments are similar to last winter’s volumes.
Chile should ship raspberries through March, Bowe said. After that, Mexico should have the import deal to itself before U.S. domestic deals take over for good in June.
California Giant Inc., Watsonville, Calif., expects to begin shipping from Northern California in April, said Cindy Jewell, the company’s marketing director.
Movement has been better on blackberries, Bowe said. A cold spell interrupted shipments enough to strengthen markets.
“Blackberry demand has been good,” he said. “Supplies were erratic out of Mexico for awhile.”
Weekly volumes would likely straighten out in February after the cold weather, Bowe said, with March and April shaping up to very promotable months for blackberries.
Dave’s Specialty Imports is importing almost all of its blackberries from Mexico this winter, Bowe said. When Mexican supplies tightened, the company supplemented its supplies with light supplies of Guatemalan blackberries, he said.
Blackberry shipments to the U.S. are up this year, Bowe said, driven by better quality and a more consistent stream of supply.
Mexico should ship through April or May, with U.S. deals taking over in June, Bowe said.
The week of Jan. 30 California Giant was at the peak of its Mexican blackberry deal, Jewell said.
California Giant will continue to import from Mexico until its California deal starts to take over in May, she said.
“We did have some early weather disruptions (in Mexico), but volume is picking up and increasing each week,” Jewell said Jan. 31. “We’re expecting good quality in promotable volume over the next few weeks.”
On Jan. 31, the USDA reported prices of $12-14 for flats of 12 6-ounce cups of blackberries from Mexico, down from $14-16 last year.