Blueberry seal of quality expected in 2014

09/13/2013 02:08:00 PM
Tom Burfield

The Argentinean Blueberry Committee, Buenos Aires, is working on a certification seal it hopes to launch next year, manager Ines Pelaez said.

An audit will be conducted and “all aspects of quality” will be considered before a grower is authorized to use the seal on packaging, she said.

The program will be voluntary, but she expects most growers to comply with the requirements, or they eventually may be forced out of the market.

Argentina has a similar program in effect for its lemons, she said.

The committee wants buyers to know Argentina’s blueberries are ahead of the game when it comes to quality, she said.

Last year Chile had quality problems because of excess rain, and some shipments were rejected or had to be repacked, Pelaez said.

Argentinean growers have less volume to work with than their neighbors and can effectively manage quality of their crops, she said.

The program will not cost growers any more to implement, she added.

Mike Parr, president of Team Produce International in Miami, said the program makes sense.

“They are trying to make the quality standards consistent,” he said.

“They would let consumers know that their berries meet the standards set by the blueberry committee.”

The industry will benefit if all growers meet the standards, he said, because the country’s entire blueberry crop may be judged by the lowest common denominator.

“Some of the better growers’ images are getting pulled down by lower growers that are not meeting the standards that the committee asks them,” he said.

Team Produce would welcome the seal, Parr added.

Los Angeles-based The Giumarra Cos. will consider factors such as what requirements must be met to earn the seal and whether there will be costs associated with it.

“It will have to have value or we would be hesitant to get into it,” he said.

The seal is an indication that Argentina’s blueberry industry is becoming more organized, said Mike Bowe, vice president at Dave’s Specialty Imports Inc., Coral Springs, Fla.

He believes it will be good for the industry.

“They are finding a better way to market their fruit,” he said.



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