The Chilean blueberry deal supplies retailers with berries so they can continue to promote fresh product through the winter.
This follows the growth pattern blueberries have enjoyed as consumers continue their interest in the fruit beyond summer.
Grower-shippers said it’s too early to plan any major specific ads or promotions for Chilean blueberries, but said preparations are underway.
“We don’t have anything on the board right now,” Teddy Koukoulis, director of blueberry operations for Wish Farms, Plant City, Fla., said Oct. 7.
“However, that will probably change after the first of the year,” he said.
Brian Bocock, director of product management for Naturipe Farms LLC, Salinas, Calif., said promotable volumes will be likely in early 2015.
“Look for good availability during January and February,” he said.
However, December will also be a busy time.
“We anticipate promotable volumes from December into early March,” said Karen Brux, managing director of the Chilean Fresh Fruit Association, San Carlos, Calif.
She said the committee has events and promotions scheduled from the end of this year to early 2015.
“Consumers love blueberries, and retailers love promoting them, so we’ll be running retail promotions from December through February,” Brux said.
“We’ll also continue to work with retail dietitians and social media staff, supporting them with usage ideas and images that they can use on their social media platforms,” Brux said.
She said the organization works with other blueberry organizations to help increase overall demand for the category.
“In addition to the Chilean-specific marketing programs run by the Chilean Blueberry Committee, the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council also implements a year-round generic campaign to increase blueberry consumption,” she said.
Funding for those programs comes from domestic and imported blueberries, Brux said. She said those efforts have had a significant impact.
“The assessment has increased by 50% as of this year,” Brux said.
She’s pleased with those results.
“That’s good news for the blueberry category. We expect to see more promotional efforts during the whole year to help increase consumption of blueberries in the U.S. market,” she said.
Watsonville, Calif.-based Driscoll’s plans to continue promoting the health benefits of Chilean blueberries around the New Year.
“We are focusing on the continued interest in health and wellness associated with blueberries from Chile and all of our growing regions. With the beginning of every New Year, consumers look for ideas around healthy meal planning and blueberries can play an important role in those plans,” said Frances Dillard, director of marketing.
“The healthy lifestyle message really resonates with the core berry consumer and we hope to leverage our partnerships with our customers to bring fresh berries and that message to everyone,” Dillard said.
Eric Crawford, president of Fresh Results LLC, Sunrise, Fla., said large packs are continuing to increase in demand.
“We’ll be shipping more large packs, more than we’ve ever shipped in the past,” Crawford said.
He said the 18-ounce and 24-ounce packs are a large part of the Chile deal.
“A large percentage of the country’s production will be packed in those sizes, and we’ll be doing it in both locations, here in the U.S. and in Chile,” he said.
The 32-ounce size is also popular, Crawford said.
“Packaging this year will be pretty much the same,” Koukoulis said.
Koukoulis did say Wish Farms is seeing an increase in the 8x18 size.
“It’s really gaining in popularity with retailers,” he said.
Bocock said he doesn’t expect any major changes.
“Trends are the same as last year,” he said.