Survey shows areas for imported blueberry improvement

12/17/2009 10:19:28 AM
Pamela Riemenschneider

Three-fourths of retailers surveyed said they think a more consistent supply is the key to winter blueberry sales.

That’s according to a report commissioned by the Chilean Fresh Fruit Association and Chilean Blueberry Committee.

The report, conducted by The Perishables Group, West Dundee, Ill., sought answers for what’s negatively affecting blueberry sales during the South American season.

It is a follow-up to research the association conducted to develop blueberry sales and merchandising best practices, said Tom Tjerandsen, marketing manager for the association.

The report, which is available at www.chileanfreshfruit.com, surveyed 31 retail executives about what they saw as the primary opportunities to increase sales and possible detractors or areas for improvement.

Price and supplies were primary hot points among respondents.
     
That’s no big surprise, said Brian Bocock, vice president of sales for Naples, Fla.-based Naturipe Farms.

The Chilean blueberry industry still is a young industry, he said. As it matures, supplies will become more predictable, consistent and plentiful.

Right now, the early part of the season is the hardest to predict, he said.

“It will continue to be a difficult challenge to accurately forecast and deliver consistent supplies during the months of November and December,” he said.

That’s primarily because the berries are flown in airplanes, he said, and the logistics are volatile.

“As you get into the second week of January, supplies become much more consistent,” he said, as berries are shipped more often via ocean vessels.

The report also identified issues with value perception as it relates to pack size, consumer perception of blueberries as a summer fruit and quality and safety perceptions of imported fruit.



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