“We haven’t experienced that yet, but we’re just getting started,” he said. “So far it looks to be a good year, but it could manifest itself later on.”
Another issue that could cause problems is the effect of opening the U.S. market for Chilean figs.
Herman said he’s concerned this could hurt demand more than it will help.
“They are out of the market now, but their quality hasn’t been very good, and the shelf life is shorter. Now we have to convince people that quality is good again,” he said.
He said the process of conveying that California figs are high in quality could take weeks, an unfortunate byproduct of the imported product.
Since 2011 was the first year for the imports, there’s still a need to differentiate the products.
“We need to work on telling people that these are California-grown,” Herman said.
It’s too early for numbers on how many figs were imported from Chile in 2011, but Stockli agreed the Chilean supply has had some negative effects on the California fresh fig industry.
She said the industry needs to educate media and consumers on the differences between the two groups of figs.
“Our efforts specifically target quality and country of origin,” she said, referencing the motto, “When you think figs, think California.”