Supplies of berries out of Mexico are tighter right now and will be for the near future.
Raspberries: “It’s very common during this time of the year to enter into the valley of the Mexican raspberry season,” says Carlos Madariaga of Berries Paradise. He notes that peak production was reached between late November and early December and since then, raspberry supplies have tightened up. “Raspberry pricing is higher than last year. It was more noticeable earlier in the month and now it’s in line with where it was at last year. But in week one, it was 20 percent more compared to last year,” says Madariaga.
Blackberries: Blackberry volume is also winding down in Mexico and will continue to stay that way during February and March. “Blackberry pricing usually runs cheaper than raspberries. But now they’re also following the trend of seeing higher pricing,” says Madariaga. “In late December and early January, prices were up by about 10 percent compared to the same weeks last season.”
Blueberries: Of the three berries, blueberries are picking up in supplies out of Mexico and elsewhere. “The market has relied very much on Chile. But Chile has 10-15 less production compared to last year and they’ve also been shipping less product to the U.S.,” says Madariaga, who estimates that Chile is shipping approximately 10 percent less blueberries compared to 2021 at this time. “Peru is pretty much wrapping up its season and while Mexico has 17 percent more production compared to last year, it was not enough during most of January to cover the Chilean gap because the peak of Mexico doesn’t come until March. But now we’re seeing bigger arrivals from Chile.”
Logistics challenges--both out of Chile and at ports in the U.S.--weather and a lack of labor in Chile are also factoring into blueberry shipments. “It’s all had an impact on the availability to send it to the fresh market,” says Madariaga. “They are taking probably two more weeks to reach the market. They need to be very careful on what type of fruit they’re selecting because not all varieties can handle the longer transit time.”
All of this has led to stronger pricing on blueberries. “We haven’t seen such a good January on pricing in many years. If we look into it weekly, early January it was 10 percent more in pricing or even higher over last season,” says Madariaga.
Demand of course is also strong for berries. “We’re in the early part of the year when people are trying to change their consumption habits to eat healthier and berries fit into that,” says Madariaga. Also recent tightness on strawberries out of California thanks to weather has added to general berry demand.
Looking ahead, raspberry and blackberry supplies will be tight for the near future. “And pricing will remain strong for both categories during February and part of March, though by the second half, production will pick up and prices will go down as well,” he says.
Blueberries are increasing in shipments out of Chile given the country is entering the last quarter of its season and it’s mostly fruit on the water that will reach the market in the coming days and weeks. “And Mexico is picking up too so there’ll be more supplies in the coming weeks,” says Madariaga.