Watsonville-based California Giant, which jumped into Chile’s blueberry deal a couple of years ago, said it will bring in much more product this year than last.
“We’re expecting a good season, because we’re increasing our volume out of Chile by maybe 50%,” said Cindy Jewell, marketing director. “Each year we’re growing significantly. This is one of those big jumps.”
The Chilean deal has been “a profitable venture” for California Giant, Jewell said.
“It’s been a good deal for the consumers, with volume increasing overall,” she said. “Consumers are seeing a much greater value today than years ago.”
Prices should be steady, said Janice Honigberg, president of Washington, D.C.-based Sun Belle Inc.
“I believe they should be firmer overall this year than last because of growing demand and the frozen market, which will keep a floor on the price,” she said. “Because there’s quite a bit of frozen capacity in Chile now, and growers are very attuned to the opportunities in the frozen market, they will have an ear to the ground about pricing and will make their decisions quickly and firmly.”
Growing conditions have set up a healthy crop, as well, said Brian Bocock, vice president of product management for Naples, Fla.-based Naturipe Farms LLC.
“I think it’s shaping up as a pretty nice crop,” he said. “There have been no significant weather events this year, so the crop will be a little bit stronger than last year.”
Some lower-than-normal temperatures in the Concordia growing region, which includes Salto, Uruguay, pushed back the start of shipments from that region slightly, said Tom Richardson, general manager of Giumarra Cos., Wenatchee, Wash.
“Since some early freezes in Tucuman, the spring has really been quite good, and fruit is harvesting now in that region,” he said. “All in all, the crop is looking quite good.”