Potential gaps are coming in supplies of domestic blueberries.
On the East Coast, the gap is between supplies out of Georgia and North Carolina. “The temperature isn’t really cooperating—the blueberries need a certain heat and it will be another week before North Carolina starts,” says Franco Maggiore from Montreal, Que.-based Thomas Fruits et Legumes. He adds that Florida, which also started late by two weeks, has just about finished production. Georgia meanwhile started on time but the cooler temperatures also set up a shorter season for blueberries from the state. Mexico finished its production a month ago.
Meanwhile on the West Coast, central California begins production on May 25th and should run until about June 20th. “The crop is running about seven days behind 2018,” says Ken Galloway of Farm to Table Berries in Reedley, Ca. “After June 20th, a gap will take place until the Northwest starts.”
Volume down in the East
Maggiore notes that volume is down in the East Coast somewhat from 2018. However the quality is good on both coasts. Galloway notes that varietals have excellent size, firmness and flavor and Maggiore also notes the texture and firmness of the berries are stronger, as well as color.
At the same time, demand remains consistent and strong for consumers. “The demand is always there. Consumers always want blueberries for health reasons,” says Maggiore.
All of this means pricing is up compared to last year—Maggiore notes that pricing is between $17.95-22.95 USD/FOB for pints while 6 oz is $12.95-14.95 USD/FOB. “It was a lot cheaper last year. It’s probably a good 25 percent more this year,” he said.
Looking ahead, Maggiore notes that the New Jersey crop of blueberries will also begin its production in June. “New Jersey is the best for flavors, textures and I think their season is going to be bountiful,” he says. “The temperature ahead for New Jersey is more appropriate for their season. They’ll do a great job this year.” He also adds that Oregon is also becoming more popular for blueberries due to the good flavors coming out of their product.