Imported blueberries are getting a slightly late start this season.
“There have not been any blueberries last week because the cold weather and a little bit of rain pushed things back a couple of weeks,” says Jim Gatter of Glassboro, NJ-based Sunny Valley International. “However we received some product late last week by air from Argentina so that deal is kicking off.”
Sunny Valley ships berries from both Chile and Argentina, though Chilean shipments won’t start until late this week. “Our first shipments of Argentinean blueberries are two weeks later than normal. By late November, we’ll start seeing boats coming into the ports and that’s when the volume begins,” says Gatter. “Up until vessel shipments, everything is by air and pallets so it’s not big volume.”
Regular crop expected
The crop, notes Gatter, looks like a normal crop similar to what was imported last year. Production from Argentina should wrap around mid to late December while Chilean imports will go later, likely until the end of March or beginning of April.
At the same time, demand remains strong for blueberries. “Demand right now is very good because there are not many berries around,” says Gatter. “It’s a mature commodity now. Everybody has them and it’s not like it used to be so there’s a good supply of them pretty much year-round now.”
Given the lighter supply and strong demand, that’s made for some equally strong pricing. “It’s $32-$34 for 6 oz. conventional blueberries from Argentina,” he says. “As volume builds, the price will go down and it’ll happen quickly. Pricing was similar last year but keep in mind the two weeks later start.”