Grower-shippers expect ample supplies of high-quality produce favorites this Fourth of July, with watermelons a possible exception.
New Jersey’s blueberries will be slightly late this year, but ample volumes will still be available for Fourth of July promotions, and quality should be excellent, said Tim Wetherbee, sales manager for Diamond Blueberry Inc., Hammonton, N.J.
Wetherbee expects a mid-June start to the Jersey deal.
“The crop looks very good at this point in time,” he said. “The bees have been in there for three weeks now. It’s progressing nicely.”
Progressing right on time to take full advantage of holiday promotions, Wetherbee said.
“The timing is excellent,” he said. “There will definitely be fruit for the Fourth of July.”
On May 29, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported prices of $24.50-26.50 for flats of 12 1-pint cups with lids of medium and large blueberries from California, up from $20.50-22.90 last year at the same time.
Early Georgia sweet corn crops were running 10 days late because of cool, rainy weather, but crops planted in late April for Fourth of July are right on target thanks to a more normal May, said Brett Bergmann, co-owner of South Bay, Florida-based Hugh H. Branch Inc.
“Georgia’s going to be fantastic,” Bergmann said. “We expect really good eating quality.”
Demand for sweet corn was excellent as of May 29, thanks to outstanding quality, Bergmann said. And he expects that to continue as the holiday nears, even with competition from the Carolinas, Virginia, Indiana and other growing areas.
“The Fourth is probably the best sweet corn holiday of the year,” he said.
Branch’s holiday volumes of traditional hybrid varieties is expected to be similar to last year, Bergmann said.
On May 29, the USDA reported a price of $9.95 for wirebound crates of 4 and 4 1/2 dozen yellow sweet corn from Florida, up from $9.20-9.75 last year at the same time.
Watsonville, Calif.-based Well-Pict Berries expects highly promotable supplies of Watsonville-grown strawberries for the Fourth, said sales manager Dan Crowley.
The company is hoping volumes are adequate to convince retailers to display strawberries as prominently as traditional summer stone and soft fruits, Crowley said.
“Sometimes strawberries are pushed to secondary displays, but we like to stay front and center, so we ask retailers to stay aggressive,” Crowley said. “We’ll have very good supplies this year.”
On May 29, the USDA reported prices of $11-12 for flats of 12 1-pint baskets of medium and large strawberries from California, up from $10-11 last year at the same time.
A delayed start to the Georgia watermelon deal, combined with very light supplies out of Mexico, should limit watermelon supplies in the runup to the Fourth, said Brent Harrison, president of Nogales, Ariz.-based Al Harrison Co.
“The market’s sloppy right now — there are no ads — but it will firm up,” he said. “I think it will be pretty scarce for the holiday.”
Al Harrison will be sourcing from Arizona for the Fourth, said Harrison, who expected good volumes and excellent quality from the region.
On May 29, the USDA reported prices of $21-22 per cwt. for 24-inch bins of red seedless watermelon 36s from Florida, up from $20-21 last year at the same time.