In an effort to provide their customers with one-stop shopping, several Southern California strawberry grower-shippers offer other berry varieties to complement their strawberry purchases.
Salinas, Calif.-based Red Blossom Sales Inc. is now offering Chas blueberries from Oxnard, Calif., said Michelle Deleissegues, marketing director.

“The quality is the best in California, and we will pack 4.4 ounces and 6 ounces,” she said.

“Our Mexico blackberry program is now just over 2 million trays,” she added. “We pack 6-ounce, 12-ounce and 18-ounce (packages of) conventional and 6-ounce organic daily.

Quality and supplies should be excellent for promotions through June, Deleissegues said.

Greater availability

“People have purchased strawberries routinely for years, but are only more recently adding blackberries, raspberries and blueberries to their regular berry purchases,” said Nolan Quinn, berry category director for The Oppenheimer Group, Vancouver, British Columbia.

Blueberries are especially popular because of their convenience, flavor, nutrition and, perhaps most importantly, availability, he said.

Driscoll Strawberry Associates Inc., Watsonville, produces a variety of berries around the world, said Frances Dillard, director of marketing.

“Southern California still represents one of our prime year-round growing regions,” she said. “However, as the demand for berries of all types, including strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries, continues to exceed supply, we will always seek out growing partnerships here and abroad.”

Orange County Produce LLC, Irvine, Calif., grew a few blackberries in the Santa Maria, Calif., area from June to September, said partner Matt Kawamura. The company probably will repeat the program in a small way this year.

Naturipe is a full line shipper, offering raspberries, blackberries and blueberries 12 months of the year, said Craig Moriyama, director of berry operations for Naturipe Berry Growers Inc., Salinas, Calif.

The company sources from several countries, he said.

Raspberries are grown pretty much year-round in California, he said, but they peak in spring and summer. Naturipe relies on Mexico and other countries during California’s off-peak periods.

Naturipe has its own proprietary varieties.

“Our program has really expanded,” he said. “It’s probably gone up a hundredfold in the last five years.”

The company also is “big in blueberries,” he said.

One of Naturipe’s partners is Munger Bros. LLC, Delano, Calif., which he said in the largest blueberry grower-shipper in California.

During the winter, the company imports blueberries from Chile, but during the domestic deal from mid-April until fall, Naturipe sources berries from California, then Oregon, Washington, British Columbia, Michigan and several other states.

The company grows blackberries from spring to fall in California and in Mexico during the winter.

New raspberry Adelita

Besides strawberries, San Diego-based Andrew & Williamson Fresh Produce offers conventional raspberries, blackberries and organic blackberries, said Chad Dvorak, director of sales for the berry division.

Conventional raspberries are sourced from central Mexico, Baja California and the Watsonville area, said John King, vice president of sales.

Andrew & Williamson grows a proprietary variety called Adelita.

“It has extra-large size, a nice ruby red color and fantastic flavor,” King said.

“We’ve got high hopes for the raspberry program with this new variety that’s just now coming into production with significant acreage,” he said.

He’s especially looking forward to the fall crop.

The company offers blackberries year-round, sourcing from Mexico and Watsonville.

The firm also sells organic blackberries, though not yet year-round, and plans to launch an organic raspberry program in the fall out of Baja California, Dvorak said.