Strawberry shipments on the rise - The Packer

Strawberry shipments on the rise

07/22/2010 02:32:08 PM
Susie Cable

In late June, the Watsonville district’s strawberry production was at peak. Stephanie Hilton, spokeswoman for Beach Street Farms, Watsonville, said crops there should continue producing into autumn.

Typically, Beach Street has promotable volumes of strawberries from Watsonville until October or November. Watsonville’s production overlaps with the Oxnard district, where Beach Street typically harvests beginning in September.

Beach Street has had good demand for conventional and organic strawberries, Hilton said. It expects to ship a volume similar to or slightly higher than last year’s. Hilton declined to say how much the company would ship.

Organic berries
Hilton said that demand for organic strawberries remained strong during the past two years, despite the poor economy.

“There’s a solid base of demand for organic produce and that’s certainly grown over the years,” she said.

“It’s a base that’s not affected by some economic issues that have affected other consumers.”

Beach Street ships organic strawberries under its Sandpiper Farms label. Hilton said volume was expected to be more than last year because acreage was increased slightly. She declined to say how many trays would ship or how many acres were planted.

Driscoll’s ships organic strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and blackberries in the summer. Consumer demand for the company’s organic berries also grew during the economic downturn, Ronan said.

“I think we’ve been able to offer good value to consumers wanting to buy the (organic) category, but it’s also a reflection of the interest and appeal of berries overall,” he said.

California Giant’s organic strawberry volume is expected to be about 20% more this summer than last, Jewell said. The company added acreage and this year expanded its organic program to offer a year-round supply of organic strawberries.

Jewell said the demand for organic berries continues to increase, and California Giant is trying to grow enough to meet, but not exceed, the demand.

Organic berry prices typically vary with conventional berry prices, Jewell said. While the grower-shipper tries to maintain a price differential for organic, it still rises and falls with conventional prices.

Like conventional prices, organic prices were similar to last year’s. On July 14, the USDA reported prices for flats of eight 1-pound containers of organic strawberries were at $10-11. A year earlier, prices were $10-12.


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