“This will have a good news and bad news outcome,” he said.
“Because there are very few competing items now, the retailers that do choose to promote at high price points will most likely experience very high comp store sales over the prior year. You may also find retailers promoting multiple berry SKUs (stock-keeping units), such as strawberries and blackberries, at the same time to create a value perception for their shoppers.”
Mark Greeff, vice president and general manager of the eastern region for Watsonville, Calif.-based Driscoll Strawberry Associates Inc., which grows and ships from Dover, said buyers should expect a strong season.
“We are very upbeat about this season,” he said in mid-December.
“It looks very promising to us. We have had a strong start. Outside of this sudden cold weather, we feel very good about the coming season.”
Greeff said plantings and field establishment were successful and that the season’s timing looks strong.
Ted Campbell, executive director of the Florida Strawberry Growers Association, Dover, said he expects the deal to have 10,000 planted acres this season, up from 9,500 acres growers planted last year.
“Obviously, we’re experiencing some minor freeze damage,” he said in mid-December.
“We remain optimistic that temperatures will cooperate and we can get the volume up quickly following this initial slowdown.”
Chris Smith, sales manager for BBI Produce Inc., Dover, said buyers should expect the industry to be harvesting more berries by the last week of December.
“Everyone is anxious and ready for Florida strawberries,” he said in mid-December.
“There are a lot of green berries on the plants, so hopefully we will be getting back closer to normal volumes by the 27th.”
Smith said he hopes to get some strong retail ads lined up by then since late December and early January is when Florida’s strawberry deal normally begins to hit high volume.