Blackberry supplies are starting to grow again after several weeks of short volumes.
“Overall, there has been more supply in the market this year versus 2021. 2021 was very challenging as supply was limited from February-April,” says Jyoti Bhogal, vice-president of sales for Berry Fresh based in Dominguez Hills, California. Bhogal adds that 2022 has seen a rebound in overall volumes, although April volumes still fell short of market demand. “Disease pressure is impacting the spring blackberry crop, specifically the Tupy variety.”
2022 has seen a rebound in overall volumes of blackberries.
Right now, supplies are primarily from Mexico though blackberries from the Southeast will begin at the start of next month. California and Guatemala are also producing blackberries currently.
The work on varieties
Varietal development is continuing in blackberries as growers shift away from the aforementioned Tupy variety. “Blackberries are going through an unprecedented genetic evolution. Multiple headwinds have challenged the status quo and created real innovation. Disease pressure has rapidly forced growers to move away from Tupy into new genetics. Growers are looking to these new varieties to improve flavor, quality and yields,” says Carlos Correa, CEO of Berry Fresh.
Left to right: Carlos Correa, Jyoti Bhogal
In the meantime Correa says Berry Fresh is excited about both the grower and consumer response to its Sweet Karoline® variety, a berry known for its sweet flavor, better shelf life and significantly higher brix levels than other varieties. “We believe Sweet Karoline is the key to accessing the untapped growth potential of the blackberry category,” says Correa.
Striving for consistency
Yet, berries continue to be a star in produce aisles and Bhogal says category growth continues to shift the supply/demand curves in a positive direction. “The market is soliciting more blackberries, especially as consumers fall in love with the new flavor profiles. These new varieties are creating uniform eating experiences which generates more consistent consumer purchasing habits. The blackberry commodity is very price elastic. We need a more consistent product to move away from the wild market swings this berry suffers,” says Bhogal.
Last month’s lower volumes of blackberries created a surge in pricing.
Meanwhile on pricing, last month’s lower volumes created a surge in pricing. “Volumes have rebounded in the last several weeks, leading to a settling of the market into more traditional price range,” says Bhogal. “We expect volumes to continue to increase over the next several weeks. Pricing will likely decline as the volume grows.”
Looking ahead, overlapping domestic and Mexican supplies will lead to promotable volumes in June. “Mexico is expected to decline quickly once seasonal rains start to affect quality,” Bhogal adds.