As the domestic season winds down, imports of blueberries are building though more slowly than anticipated.
“We’re seeing less and less domestic supply. There is a bit in Michigan and the Pacific Northwest as well,” says Luciano Fiszman of Redondo Beach, Ca.-based Gourmet Trading Co, though he notes the volume is small and, since it’s end of crop fruit, the condition of the fruit isn’t top quality.
However, volumes are building from Peru. “The volume from Peru is more than at this time last year. But it’s not as much as it was forecast at one time,” says Fiszman. “The market was expecting to see more fruit by now than what we actually have.”
The spring effect
While the condition of the fruit is excellent, the cooler spring in Peru is behind the slow start. “Volume hasn’t reached maximum yet. The peak volume has been moved to a couple of weeks from what it was supposed to be,” says Fiszman.
At the same time, Argentina is also slow to build with volume on blueberries. “By now should be on track but they’re starting slowly as well. The market is just starting to see fruit now,” says Fiszman, noting it too is related to cooler spring temperatures. “I do expect Argentina to start with more decent volume in another 10-15 days.”
Also exporting fruit are Mexico and Chile in very small volumes. Though Fiszman adds that the quality of organic blueberries out of Chile and Peru is great, yet more limited in supplies. “We have great market share of organic blues at this time in the year and yet they are not enough,” he says.
Eyes on blueberries
All of this means the blueberry market will be one to watch. “It will be interesting to see what that means for the market in the last week of October, first week in November,” says Fiszman. “That’s where this market may feel for the first time a balance between supply and demand. So far, demand has exceeded supply.”
Helping that are retailers who are promote the strong supplies. “Last year’s pricing was higher than what it is right now. But this price is one that works for everyone in the industry and that has helped because the retailers are promoting the fruit,” says Fiszman. “It will be interesting to see in the next two weeks what happens when they finally start to come into the market. Pricing is softer than what it was last year at this time. But it’s not to the point where you can say the market is crashing. We’re far from crashing. The pricing is just adjusting in order to move the crop.”