While the North American raspberry season heads northwards, one company is continuing its year-round production in Mexico. Meridian Fine Foods is a grower, packer and shipper of strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and blackberries, as well as offering avocados and mangos. The company produces raspberries year-round under the Fresh Kampo brand.
"With our 52 weeks a year raspberry program, we are one of the largest berry growers, packers and shippers in Mexico," shared Eli Nunez of Meridian Fine Foods. "All of our raspberries are of the Adelita variety and we grow both organic and conventional. We have a presence in 70 percent of the growing regions in Mexico and have loading and distribution centers in Long Beach and McAllen from where we ship orders on a daily basis."
Meridian Fine Foods grows raspberries in Central Mexico and Baja California at this time of year. Nunez said Central Mexico is a year-round producing region, while Baja is seasonal, although this year the company are expecting supplies for the remainder of the year from Baja. "Supplies are very good right now of both raspberries and blackberries and we expect good production throughout summer," he said. "We will be planting in Baja in the next two to three weeks and under the current plan, expect to have berries all the way through to the end of the year."
Expansion plans for blackberries
Meridian Fine Foods is also looking to expand its blackberry production, with new fields opening up in Sonora, Guanajuato, Baja California, as well as California's Central Valley. Like their other berries, the blackberries are sold under the Fresh Kampo brand.
"Our plan is to increase blackberry production with the aim of producing them 12 months of the year," Nunez said. "The new fields will grow both organic and conventional and is something new for us. For our blackberries, we are planning on transitioning away from the Tupi. Both our organic and conventional raspberries and blackberries are available in 6oz or 12oz clamshells."
Morocco program supplying Europe
Meridian Fine Foods' berry production in Mexico and USA supplies all of North America. Additionally, the company flies berries from Guadalajara to customers in Europe. Recently, it launched a new program in Morocco aimed at meeting the consumer demand in Europe and while there have been a few challenges, overall the company is pleased with the first season, which was completed a few months ago.
"We now have production in Morocco for our European customers," Nunez shared. "In Morocco we are growing raspberries and blackberries. We just finished our first season after launching last fall and overall we are pleased with how the season went. At this time, we will remain a seasonal producer until we learn more about the logistics in this region and also the cultural differences for our workers there. It all takes time, but our ultimate goal is to produce all of what we need for the European market in Morocco and leave the Mexican production exclusively for the North American market."
"Our company also complements the Mexico and Morocco programs by partnering with growers in Chile, Peru, Spain, Portugal and Serbia," he concluded. "As a result, we have the ability to meet demand in all our markets by having the option to fly berries from any of our growing regions. In this way we can avoid supply problems in times of extreme circumstances."