California produces strawberries year-round, but this is prime time for the popular fruit.

“We are coming into peak strawberry season here in the Watsonville/Salinas district by the end of the month with extended consistent volume, so we are encouraging our trading partners to increase space in the produce department and promote accordingly,” Cindy Jewell, vice president of marketing for California Giant Berry Farms, Watsonville, said June 1. “In addition to strawberry supply, we are expanding volume on blackberries and blueberries as we move into the end of June and into July, so timing is perfect to ramp up ‘berry patch’ destinations within the produce department.”

The U.S. Department of Agriculture reported June 9 from the Salinas-Watsonville district that flats of eight 1-pound containers with lids were $8-9 for medium and large strawberries, and organic berries in similar packages were $10-12. Year-ago prices were similar, $9-10 for conventional berries and $10-12 for organic.

Jim Grabowski, marketing manager for Well-Pict Inc., Watsonville, Calif., said California strawberry volumes peak from mid-June thru mid-July, and supplies should remain steady throughout the summer months.

Jason Fung, director of category development for the Vancouver, British Columbia-based Oppenheimer Group, said June 7 the company was sourcing strawberries from Santa Maria and Salinas and would continue in those locations before switching to Lompoc in the fall. The company also sources strawberries from Mexico from October through February.

Bil Goldfield, director of corporate communications for Westlake Village, Calif.-based Dole Food Co., said June 1 the company was harvesting strawberries in Santa Maria, Salinas and Watsonville, Calif.; blueberries and blackberries in Georgia and North Carolina; and raspberries and blackberries in Watsonville.

Goldfield said quality and supply was excellent in all of Dole’s growing areas.

 

Blackberries

The USDA reported June 9 that blackberries in flats of 12 6-ounce cups with lids from Mexico were $7-8, down from year-ago prices of $10-12.

Eric Crawford, president of Fresh Results LLC, Sunrise, Fla., said his company wrapped up its Mexico harvest the week of June 4 as it started production in North Carolina.

Despite a mid-March freeze, Crawford said quality was excellent, and “the blackberries are coming on strong.”

Blackberry volumes in Georgia and North Carolina peak in June and July, Goldfield said.

North Carolina production could last into early September, Crawford said.

Fresh Results’ Mexico production resumes in August, he said.

Oppenheimer sources blackberries from Mexico August to May and has added California production that will run from July into early August, Fung said.

North Carolina dealt with frost and hail damage last year, but Scott Norman, director of raspberry and blackberry product management for Naturipe Farms LLC, Salinas, Calif., said the company is expecting a full crop this season.

“Weather forecasts are looking good so far,” he said. “It’s a traditional summer with large southeastern fruit, bursting with flavor.”

Norman said Georgia also is expecting a strong season with good volumes and sizing.

“Year after year, Georgia continues to produce consistent, good fruit,” he said.

 

Raspberries

The USDA reported June 9 from the Salinas-Watsonville district that red raspberries in flats of 12 6-ounce cups with lids were $12-14, up from $10-12 at the same time last year.

“Raspberry volume is building as we speak and will remain strong throughout June and most of July,” Grabowski said June 6. “It will then dip slightly at the start of August but pick up again by mid-August and run steady through September.”

Grabowski said strawberry and raspberry volume from California should be sufficient to support retail promotions for the Fourth of July.

 
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