Grower-shippers expect promotable supplies of high-quality holiday favorites this Fourth of July, though sweet corn in the east and blueberries in the west could be lower in supply than normal.
Of the three major California strawberry-producing regions, only Watsonville will likely have product for the Fourth of July, said Dan Crowley, sales manager for Watsonville-based Well-Pict Inc.
But it should be able to carry the load.
“Supplies will be more than adequate for the July 4 holiday,” Crowley said. “We’ll have normal volumes, slightly off our highest numbers.”
Quality should be outstanding for fruit shipping for the holiday, Crowley said.
“We anticipate excellent size and sugars,” he said. “That’s why we grow along the coast.”
For the first time, all of Well-Pict’s Watsonville acreage for the Fourth of July will be the 9271 variety, Crowley said.
The 9271 is a large, cone-shaped variety with excellent flavor and skin integrity, he said.
In terms of promotions for the holidays, Well-Pict expects strawberries to be featured on many retailers’ four-variety “berry patch” displays, Crowley said.
West Coast supplies of blueberries could be lower than normal for Fourth of July promotions, but Eastern and Midwestern supplies should be strong, said Brian Bocock, vice president of product management for Naples, Fla.-based Naturipe Farms LLC.
And even on the West Coast, Bocock said, supplies will be sufficient for holiday promotions.
A late start to the Oregon deal is the reason for lower volumes out of the West, Bocock said.
“There will be some fruit from southern Oregon, but not a lot,” he said. “Most of Oregon begins after the 4th.”
California will be the primary supplier of West Coast fruit for the 4th, but the Golden State will be past its peak by then, Bocock said. Eastern Washington also will be supplying some fruit for the holiday.
Western blueberries will be promotable for the Fourth, just not at the usual prices, he said.
In the East, the Fourth of July blueberry deal will be dominated by New Jersey, Bocock said.
“There’s a great opportunity to promote from New Jersey,” he said. “It’s a great crop. The quality looks outstanding.”
Some fruit also will still be shipping from Georgia and North Carolina, Bocock said.
In the Midwest, supplies will be dominated by Michigan, which will be up and running for Fourth promotions but not likely in full stride until the first or second week of July, Bocock said.
While pints will be the top packaging choice for Fourth promotions, Bocock also expects brisk movement of 18-ounce, 2-pound and 5-pound packs for the holiday.
Sweet corn supplies for the Fourth will likely be slightly lighter than normal for Belle Glade, Fla.-based Wilkinson-Cooper Produce Inc., said Randy Wilkinson, president.
That’s because as of May 30, southeast production was running about five to eight days ahead of schedule, Wilkinson said. Crops in New York and the Carolinas also were likely to come off early, he said.
Nevertheless, there’s no reason for retailers to panic, Wilkinson said.
“I think there will be enough to go around. There always is. The Fourth is one of the biggest corn holidays there is.”
Quality at the end of May was as good as Wilkinson said he could remember. And he expected the excellent demand early in the season to carry through to the Fourth.