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California's strawberry supply increasing

As the end of April draws closer, the supply of strawberries is finally picking up. "We are behind where we thought we would be at this point in the season, but happy with demand and the overall market conditions," says Cindy Jewell of Bobalu."The plants at our ranches look great and are pushing out some beautiful fruit."

Bobalu's RC Jones with Jorge, the company's Oxnard field supervisor.

It's a different picture from last year at this time when record rains and subsequent crop losses were seen early in the season leaving this year's crop ahead of last year with volume.

Right now, strawberries are coming from Oxnard, California, and given the recent mild weather in both daytime and nighttime temperatures, that region is expected to go longer than usual. "We continue to get the occasional rain showers every seven to 10 days, but hope that will soon subside so we can just get into the groove with normal spring weather here in southern California," says Jewell. "Depending on what Mother Nature brings in the next few weeks, we hope to take the season in Oxnard through May into early June."

Santa Maria production
Harvesting in Santa Maria, California has begun but along the west side of the area which is closer to the ocean, that production is still behind. "However, once it takes off there, we will harvest in Santa Maria all summer long into the fall," says Jewell.

Oxnard production should go through May into early June.

As for strawberry demand–and pricing–they're both holding strong. "This is because we are behind and there isn't a lot for consumers to choose from in the produce department," says Jewell. "We look forward to a good promotional bump as we get closer to Mother's Day, then into Memorial Day. Consumers are ready for spring weather and our fresh strawberries are perfect for that shift in shopping behavior."

Indeed, consumers' strong interest in strawberries is consistent with sales data from the California Strawberry Commission that indicates that strawberries are the second most valuable fruit category in U.S. supermarkets with $4 billion in sales. Additionally, consistently, consumers keep strawberries as one of the top three most consumed fruits. "We hope to continue to promote, keep our strawberries front and center in the department, and work with key retail customers to keep pricing inviting to the consumer to build momentum and keep demand high," she says.

For more information:
Cindy Jewell
Tel: +1 (831) 566-2202
[email protected]