( Courtesy Well-Pict Inc. )

California Giant seasonally strong

California Giant Berry Farms has good volume of strawberries coming from Watsonville, Calif., and Salinas, Calif., followed by a late crop beginning in late August from Santa Maria, said Cindy Jewell, vice president of marketing for California Giant, Watsonville.

“We are looking forward to a strong second half of our berry season (in) the summer and fall,” she said.

Blackberries and raspberries from California will also continue through the summer with good volume expected well into September, she said.

“Based on how the plants look overall and how the season has unfolded this year, we are thinking September will be a good month for promoting berries,” Jewell said.

“Timing is perfect for the consumer as kids go back to school and daily grocery shopping routines resume after summer vacations have ended.”


Cal Poly Strawberry Center has field day

The Cal Poly Strawberry Center, San Luis Obispo, Calif., had its second annual field day on July 19.

“It was pretty exciting to see the results from the trials,” said Carolyn O’Donnell, communications director for the Watsonville-based California Strawberry Commission.

She said there are a number of trials that are cooperative effort between Cal Poly, UC Davis and the U.S. Department of Agriculture looking at genetic resistance to soil-borne diseases.


Strawberry commission stays social

The California Strawberry Commission continues promote strawberries with the #GetSnacking hashtag on strawberries.

Each month on Instagram, @CAstrawberries is giving away prizes including NutriBullets, Fitbits, and other strawberry-themed items. The promotion has hit the mark, said Carolyn O’Donnell, communications director for the Watsonville-based commission.

“Everyone’s always looking for that healthy snack,” she said, noting that the promotion will continue to the end of the California strawberry season.


Dole looks for strong import program

Dole Food expects growth in the Mexican and South American berry import programs, said Bil Goldfield, director of corporate communications for Dole Food Co., Westlake Village, Calif.

“We have taken extraordinary measures over the past few months to strategize and prepare for a new horizon in the berry category of our company,” he said July 24.

Dole expects to see strong volumes this year from Argentina, Uruguay, Chile, Peru and Mexico, he said.

“Through a mixture of independent grower relations, vertical integration and varietal exclusives, our strawberry, blueberry, blackberry and raspberry programs will see significant uptick and availability as compared to the same times last year,” he said.

Dole also is taking new positions in both the Northeast and Southwest of the U.S. to offer better logistic alternatives to customers, he said.

Dole expects to increase its berry tonnage dramatically this coming season from South America entering in through the ports of Philadelphia and Long Beach.

In addition, the company expects to further diversify its offerings from the Texas border to better serve U.S. and Canadian customers.


Naturipe Farms’ supply stays steady

With yields running above historical averages, the outlook for strawberries and other berries in California is strong, said Craig Moriyama, director of berry operations for Naturipe Berry Farms, Salinas, Calif.

All four berries look to be plentiful from August through September, he said.

“It is just one heck of a production year,” he said. “We’re not picking the (same) numbers (as) a month ago, but we’re still picking steady numbers and those numbers are still higher than the three-year average,” he said.

Central coast blackberry volume looks strong in August and September, he said.


Oppy looks for solid volume

The Vancouver, British Columbia-based Oppenheimer Group will deliver strong volumes of strawberries and Pacific Northwest blueberries through mid- to late summer, said Karin Gardner, director of corporate communications for Oppy.

The berries are packed in the Ocean Spray Family Farmer-Owned brand.

“We are excited to offer high quality fruit in a label that drives consumer confidence during the height of berry season,” she said.

In early July, Oppy introduced Ocean Spray organic blueberries, she said. Organic and conventional berries are grown in British Columbia and Washington state.

“We’re poised to help customers capitalize on summer holiday promotions where blueberry sales peak,” she said. Gardner said blueberry popularity continues to increase.

“The program gives consumers one more touch point with the Ocean Spray brand in the produce department, giving them the opportunity to enjoy conventional and organic berries in a label they trust,” she said.


Pursuit of Flavor a social media hit

Launched less than 3 months ago, Driscoll’s six-part miniseries, Pursuit of Flavor, has surpassed more than 5 million views, breaking the engagement record for the fresh berry category, according to Frances Dillard, director of marketing and global brand lead for Watsonville, Calif.-based Driscoll’s.

Dillard said the series focuses on how Driscoll’s pursues the art and science of creating flavor experiences.

The most watched episode focuses on Driscoll’s history of introducing raspberries into the marketplace. In addition, Dillard said close to 2 million views were reached on Costco’s Facebook page directly engaging with core produce shoppers during peak growing season.


Well-Pict showing good volume

Strawberries were showing good quality and volume out of Watsonville, said Jim Grabowski, director of marketing for Watsonville, Calif.-based Well-Pict Inc.

Supply from the region will run for another couple of months and fruit volume and quality has been good, he said.

“We are probably going to start declining in numbers as time goes on, but there are still good numbers and a lot of promotable quantities available,” he said.

Sizing has increased after dipping a few weeks ago.

“Right now we are pretty pleased with the crop and hoping it will continue for the next couple of months,” he said.

Organic strawberry demand was cleaning up available supply, he said. Raspberry varieties were in transition and supply was expected to run strong from July through October, he said.


Wish Farms finishes blueberries strong

For blackberries and raspberries, Plant City, Fla.-based Wish Farms will wrap up its first full season at the company farm, Misty Sierra Madre in Santa Maria, Calif.

“At this time, all signs point to strong yields on both cane berries in August and September,” said Nick Wishnatzki, marketing projects manager.

Wish Farms expects a full crop of blackberries coming in from North Carolina, supplementing California.

By late September/October, Wish Farms expects imports of both cane berries arriving from Mexico.