Grower-shippers expect raspberry and blackberry volumes and quality to return to seasonal norms after shaky starts in Mexico.
Raspberry volumes are up slightly over last season at the same time for Salinas, Calif.-based Naturipe Farms LLC, said Scott Norman, director of blackberry and raspberry product management.
Naturipe sources raspberries year-round from the Oxnard, Calif., area, Norman said. In addition, its Mexican volumes are up this season, though the season was getting off to a slower start for many.
“Overall, the industry is on the low side in Mexico,” he said. “There were weather issues in December, then a cold start to January.”
With the problems in Mexico, Dave’s Specialty Imports Inc., Coral Springs, Fla., is turning its attention elsewhere, said Mike Bowe, vice president.
“It’s slim pickings on raspberries right now,” Bowe said Jan. 22. “The Mexican quality is not quite up to par, so we’ve held off on that. But Chile is about to start shortly.”
By the end of January, Chilean volumes could already be shipping in volume, Bowe said.
Mexican volumes should start hitting their stride by about the week of Feb. 10, Norman said.
Norman expects a steady balance of supply and demand for raspberries in the coming months.
“Last year saw some high prices, a lot of demand,” he said. “I think the increases (this season) will fit right in with demand.”
Mexican blackberry volumes were typical for this time of year as of Jan. 21, Norman said.
“Rain at the front end of the deal created a few problems,” he said. “There’s been a small shift in the window.”
Product was shipping about three weeks ahead of schedule in January, Norman said. The normal February peak as a result is beginning in January this year.
The rains compromised some of the early fruit, but by the second half of January, quality was improving, Norman said.
“We’re looking forward to a good, strong season.”
After a slight shortage the week of Jan. 13 that sent prices up, Mexican blackberry volumes were back on track the week of Jan. 20, Bowe said, with steady volumes and demand expected in the coming weeks.
Dave’s Specialty Imports expects to have promotable volumes of high-quality blackberries in February and into March, Bowe said.