Strawberry business on the rebound at foodservice - The Packer

Strawberry business on the rebound at foodservice

02/10/2012 11:58:00 AM
Tom Burfield

Sunrise Growers Inc., Placentia, Calif., doesn’t have a lot of foodservice business for its fresh strawberries, said Christine Herrera, vice president of marketing.

“However, the company did suffer “a significant decline” in frozen strawberry business during the recession, which was more than offset by increased retail business.

“During the most recent six to eight months, we have experienced a return to growth in foodservice and are approaching pre-recession demand levels,” she said.

Santa Cruz Berry Farming Co. established in Watsonville, Calif., last year, wants to do more foodservice business because it has high-quality berries to offer chefs, said owner Fritz Koontz.

The company has not focused on foodservice in the past because it did not have berries available in all districts, and could not meet the year-round needs of foodservice accounts.

The firm did some indirect foodservice business through wholesalers, but this season, as the company expands its sourcing into new growing areas, the company plans to do more direct foodservice business, Koontz said.

Seven Seas Berry Sales, Watsonville, handles sales for Santa Cruz Berry Farming Co.

One change that has taken place in recent years is the switch from pint containers to clamshell packages, Munger said.

At Andrew & Williamson, only a few foodservice customers request pints, and they’re considered a special pack.

“The clamshell is really the optimal container for the berry,” Munger said.

There is less bruising, less cutting and more flexibility for better storage in a cooler with clamshells than with plastic pint baskets, he said.

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