The Peruvian blueberry season is off to a good start. “Supply is quite good with the season currently underway and volume and quality are strong,” says Jason Fung, Vice-President of Categories and Strategy for the Oppenheimer Group.
The season did see a slightly later start with cooler weather contributing to that delay. Even so, volumes are ahead of last year and coming in strong, so there have been no major disruptions to start this deal. Overall, supplies from Peru are up which Fung notes is good timing given Asia, North America and Europe are all looking to move more volume from Peru into their markets.
Peruvian blueberries are part of the Oppenheimer Group’s berry lineup which includes strawberries, blackberries and raspberries, along with cranberries under its Ocean Spray branded line as part of an exclusive partnership. The company also supports Fair Trade through this Peruvian blueberry program. “Sustainable development and corporate social responsibility are important to us, which is why we’re honored to give consumers choice to help farmers improve their social, environmental and economic standards,” Fung said.
Volumes of Peruvian blueberries are ahead of last year and coming in strong.
Helping grow consumption
Demand is good for the popular berry and Fung adds that the Peruvian program is very important to the industry. “Consumption will need to continue to grow and we anticipate seeing more in the marketplace in the coming years. We look towards working hand in hand with retailers to promote and drive value to customers,” he says.
Helping move towards that goal will likely be branded consumption. “Branded produce continues to dominate the produce snacking category. As one of the most recognizable produce brands, we’re thrilled to market Ocean Spray which harnesses 96 percent brand awareness. This has been, and will continue to be an important factor in advancing consumption,” adds Fung.
Pricing has been consistent over the past year as volumes have increased. At the same time, Oppy is managing challenges such as labor costs and availability as well as supply chain issues and transportation costs. “We’re looking for a number of opportunities to streamline these concerns including better training and robotics where possible,” he says.
Jason Fung says pricing has been consistent over the past year as volumes have increased.
Looking ahead, volumes continue to ramp up in the marketplace. “We’re setting up promotions for October and November as we see many opportunities to drive sales and blueberry consumption,” he said.
Alongside Peruvian blueberries, Oppy is also shipping Ocean Spray Happy Berry™ hydroponic strawberries. These berries are grown year-round in a protected ecosystem on tabletops raised to chest height. This eases labor while reducing the need for chemical inputs and eliminating ground fumigation. Growing hydroponically also means there’s significantly less water needed given the berries are grown closer together and their high yield leaves a smaller footprint.