Blackberry and blueberry supplies are slowly ramping up out of Mexico, following a delayed start to the season.
“This year has been a bit more challenging with supplies. Michoacán, Mexico had a heavier rainy season than in prior years and bumped the start of the new crop. We have been monitoring the berries closely with our growers and packers to ensure that the fruit is ready for harvest,” says Kevin Thron, sourcing and procurement manager at Terra Exports, who notes the season saw an approximate four week-delay. At the same time, heavier blueberry supplies are also arriving from Peru.
That said, the start of the season marks a new initiative for Terra Exports based in Las Vegas, NV--the launch of the fruit company’s Berrylicious program, an in-house branded blackberry and blueberry program. The idea for the program was an employee initiative. “We wanted a label that was exciting and followed our Avolicious theme for our avocados--this is our passion and our life, and we spend a lot of time working with our growers and suppliers to deliver consistent quality and volume to take care of our clients,” says Thron. “What’s also important is the reinforcement of relationships with our suppliers. We’re working hand in hand with them to deliver these labels that represent our passion and commitment.”
Berries and avocados
The idea for the program, which began a month ago, also follows the launch of the Avolicious in-house avocado brand, which was introduced in early October. To date, while Berrylicious primarily ships blackberries and blueberries throughout the U.S., it also sends fruit to Canada, the Middle East, Europe and Asia.
The program also comes at a time when berry demand overall is strong. “There’s a lot of interest in blackberries and blueberries. The market is ready to go, but the harvest is slowly getting there,” says Thron.
That’s complicated pricing. “With limited supplies of berries out of Michoacán, there has been some disconnect between field and market pricing to compete with the volume arriving from Peru,” says Thron. He does note that as the season comes further along, availability will increase substantially and blueberry pricing will become more competitive.
The berry season in Mexico is ramping up and has a good outlook to provide a strong crop of berries in the coming months, he added.