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Crystal Valley starts enhanced berry program

Prominent berry category has high consumption growth

Crystal Valley Foods announced two weeks ago in a press release that they are now shipping blueberries and blackberries under the Crystal Valley and Fresh Approach (Team Produce) labels. The augmented berry complements their current asparagus and specialty import business. 

Prominent category among produce
Berries have long been a prominent category in the produce department says Jay Rodriguez, president of Crystal Valley Foods. “Over the last two decades they’ve experienced one of the highest rates of consumption growth of all fruits and vegetables.” With their health benefits being touted more and more often with the recognition of being a “super fruit” Rodriguez says they expect consumption to continue to grow. “Berries also are a perfect complement to our other product lines,” he adds. “We are a leading asparagus importer in the US and berries have similar growing regions and handling requirements.” 

The growing season has been very good with no issues related to weather so far. “Peru has already started harvesting and because North America still has domestic product, the volume has been going to other markets,” he says. Peruvian volume into the US should start in the first week of September and Argentina starting in mid-September. 

Market share & high volume
Crystal Valley recently acquired Team Produce, their already-established produce import partner. “This is not the first time importing with the growers we are working with. They have been exporting to Team for some time and they have enjoyed years of excellent relationships.” Larger volumes are expected this season and Rodriguez indicates production in all of the areas where they grow is increasing and “just maintaining market share will mean that our volumes will be higher.” 

Bigger blackberry supply
The Guatemalan blackberry supply is heavier than last year and it is expected to continue like this through September. “The volume we import will be dependent upon when Mexico gets started.” Mexico typically has the ability to start in early September and he expects the same this season. “We are very cognizant of day to day weather conditions during this time of year as any tropical disturbances can have the ability to affect the start of harvesting.” 

Some white asparagus still available
Crystal Valley’s other strong commodity, white asparagus from Peru still has some availability. Because of the northern region’s good sandy soil conditions, white asparagus is grown there year-round. “Production decreases quite a bit during the cooler winter period (June, July, August in Peru) but there is still product available.” 

Majority of white asparagus used in high-end foodservice
The majority of the white asparagus volume has been absorbed by the high-end foodservice like restaurants; Rodriguez says a much smaller percent goes into the retail sector. It’s because of little product awareness on the consumer’s part because it has distinct preparation requirements they may not realize. “Historically, white asparagus has been predominantly consumed in the European market. In France, Germany and Belgium ‘asparagus’ was traditionally white and Europeans viewed green asparagus consumed in the US as a novelty. Europe started importing green asparagus in more volume with the development of the crop in Peru.” 

For more information: 
Jay Rodriquez 
Crystal Valley Foods 

Publication date: 8/30/2017
Author: Rebecca D Dumais
Copyright: www.freshplaza.com


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