Courtesy Oregon Raspberry and Blackberry CommissionU.S. Undersecretary of Commerce for International Trade Francisco Sánchez pauses for a photo op with representatives of the Oregon Raspberry and Blackberry Commission: Darcy Kochis, marketing director Cat McKenzie and chairman Tim Kreder. The commission participated in the Chinese trade show HOFEX. Berry exporters are enjoying a solid start to the summer season.
“We are doing a fair amount of export to the Far East out of Oregon at the moment,” said Tom Richardson, vice president of global development for Giumarra International Berry, Los Angeles.
Richardson says demand is fairly good at this point.
“There is consistent demand out of Asia for Northwest blueberries at the moment, and that looks to continue all the way through the summer,” he said.
Europe is a large export market as well, according to Eric Crawford, president of Fresh Results LLC, Sunrise, Fla.
Crawford said this year the demand has been especially high from Europe because of their hotter weather.
“There was apparently some crop failures in Europe which spurred demand much earlier than we usually see,” he said.
Most of Fresh Results’ exports ship from Florida or British Columbia, Crawford said.
Watsonville, Calif.-based Well-Pict Berries also does a significant amount of export business.
“We export mostly to Canada, but we also regularly go to Japan and other Asian areas,” said Julie Lucido, marketing director at Marketing Plus, Fresno, Calif., on behalf of Well-Pict Berries.
Lucido said the berries that are exported are harvested by special growing and packing teams.
“There are unique needs for the export market,” she said.
Santa Cruz Berry Farming Co., Watsonville, Calif., ships berries to some Pacific Rim countries, as well as to France and Great Britain, owner Fritz Koontz said.
He says there has been a worldwide interest to grow strawberries as global demand has been on the rise.
However, not every place has a suitable climate, making California a popular place to import from.
“The good thing about California is that it’s still cool right now, and it’s just really hard to grow quality berries in those higher temperatures,” Koontz said.
Koontz said there is especially high demand around the time of Wimbledon.
Foreign trade show
The Oregon Raspberry & Blackberry Commission recently participated in Hofex, the largest trade show in China, according to Cat McKenzie, marketing director.
“We brought four packers with us and got to meet lots of people in the Hong Kong market,” McKenzie said.
The organization also did a survey to determine attitudes of Chinese buyers about frozen berries since they are used to fresh.
“We are really trying to look at new markets and the Far East is a great new market, especially because of the health benefits of berries,” McKenzie said.