California strawberries may score another record

07/27/2009 10:14:53 AM
Don Schrack

Naturipe’s research supports that opinion, Verloop said. The findings indicate that shoppers who buy strawberries also are buying other berries, he said.

“We see the reason people eat strawberries is different from the reason they eat raspberries or blackberries or blueberries,” Verloop said, “and each has different applications in culinary use.”

The domestic harvest of blackberries at California Giant will begin to wind down in August, Jewell said, but the company will then bring in blackberries from Mexico.

California Giant is planning a late September blueberry promotion featuring Canadian-grown fruit. Details of the promotion were to be finalized in late July, Jewell said.

Well-Pict will be helping to increase the state’s late-season strawberry production when it ramps up what the industry calls the Southern California fall harvest in the Oxnard region. To mark the fifth year of the fall Oxnard program, the Well-Pict has added two of its propriety varieties for a total of three strawberry varieties, Crowley said.

“That harvest will begin near the end of September and continue through November,” he said.

Two Oxnard based grower-shippers, Deardorff Family Farms and Boskovich Farms, have strong spring deals but do not have fall programs. However, the Boskovich Farms’ plantings that are targeted to begin producing early next year likely will offer limited supplies in late fall, said Russ Widerburg, sales manager.

Deardorff Family Farms does not anticipate fall supplies, said David Cook, sales manager, but the company will have promotable volume beginning in January.

Consistent programs

The challenge for grower-shippers of some berry varieties is building consistent programs.

“The ups and downs of the weather and how that impacts a retailer’s ability to promote the fruit is challenging,” Verloop said.

Helping both sides jump that hurdle, he said, is grower-shippers who are getting better at providing strategic information to retailers about the crops. Some retailers are asking for updates on all the berry crops much more frequently than they did just two or three years ago, Verloop said. Their sensitivity as to what affects the berry production side and how it affects their promotional and on-shelf displays is growing, he said.

That the California strawberry industry seems to set a new record for volume nearly every year may tend to diminish the significance of this year’s new mark. To put it in perspective, Crowley said, the industry could count on one hand the number of a 6 million-tray weeks it had enjoyed over the past decade. This year, grower-shippers have recorded 15 consecutive 6 million-tray weeks, he said, and one was a 7 million-tray week.

“It’s been a real good year for the growers, retailers and obviously great value for the consumer,” Jewell said.


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