Thanks to a few weather issues, strawberries out of Florida look tight right now.
“We’re very short, especially on organic strawberries,” says Robert Wilhelm of Bova Fresh LLC in Boca Raton, Fl. “We had a couple of weeks of cold weather and it’s kind of slowed all of our plants down. We have a lot of green fruit out there just waiting for some sunlight. So far we haven’t been able to get the fruit to color up. Last week we were short and this week we will be too.”
Overall volume is better than last year though. “Last year we were running into freezes and we were really hurting for volume,” says Wilhelm. “This year we’ve had much better volume until just the last two weeks.” On top of that, since last year, Bova Fresh has added approximately 50 percent more acreage. “We’re up to almost 100 acres of conventional and 50 acres of organic this year,” says Wilhelm.
Also supplying strawberries are California and Mexico, though the latter competes more directly with Florida.
Push for berries
Not surprisingly, demand, which looks similar to last year, is very strong. “Ads are starting and we don’t have the fruit for it now,” Wilhelm says. This has put pricing in a strong $16 range. “We were probably a bit more last year because we had no fruit from the freezes,” says Wilhelm. Pricing has been relatively steady.
Looking ahead, Wilhelm anticipates picking heavier the end of this week and early next week on organic berries especially. “In the next few weeks, we’ll see more fruit and hopefully get to a point where we can fulfill our ad commitments and get ready for Valentine’s,” says Wilhelm, who anticipates supplies returning to normal in about 10 days.
The Florida season also may run slightly longer this year. “We usually finish up around the end of March. But this year with Easter being so late, we’ll try going into April if the weather helps us out and it doesn’t get too hot,” adds Wilhelm.