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Easter promotions drive demand

Short-term strawberry volumes impacted by California rains

“We are now past the peak of our Florida strawberry production down in Plant City,” says Jerry Moran with Naturipe Farms. Volumes peaked in late February through the beginning of March. Florida production has now started to taper off, but will continue with lighter volumes through the month of March. “We’ve seen some really big volumes out of Florida due to warm weather bringing on production heavily. Overall, the Florida season has gone well, but the warm weather a few weeks ago, did result in softer fruit.” 

The current cooler weather improves the fruit quality. After the Easter holiday pull, we will be concentrated in California where production is starting to increase. Naturipe Farms is currently harvesting in Southern California and the Central Coast region, between Oxnard and Santa Maria.

Jerry Moran shows a 2 lb clam shell of Florida strawberries at the Southern Exposure trade show.

Impact of cooler weather
“The cooler weather and rains in California are slowing things down for us now,” said Moran. Light rain doesn’t have much of an impact, but back to back rain storms do have a bigger impact on supplies and quality. California was on pace to have very good volumes early on as we were having a very mild winter. “In late February the weather changed and we started having cooler temperatures. The recent cooler temps were lower than normal averages and that has slowed down the early pace we were once on,” Moran said. 

The recent rain events have also caused some delays and loss of volumes. “We will have light supplies for March, but our big push will be in April with production peaking April through June. Once we dry out in late March and early April, we should begin to see California volumes start to increase. Volumes will be really strong between all our California districts between April and October with lots of promotable volume available.”

Although strawberries are in good demand consistently, high California production volumes will result in plentiful supplies. “We’ve seen record volumes out of California last year, which will continue to happen this year. A slight reduction in acreage in California is going to be compensated by higher yielding varieties. So even though acreage might be down, production will still increase,” Moran shared.

Easter is a big holiday for strawberries. “We see a big spike in demand as it is one of the main items that gets promoted for Easter.” Many retailers have strawberry promotions to kick off the spring season.

Exports are challenging
The large majority of Naturipe’s strawberries is distributed in the US, Canada and Mexico. “We do a little bit of export, but labor is a big challenge for the export market. Especially in Asia, customers want a lighter colored berry and it is becoming a challenge to harvest for that market.” A special harvest crew needs to be sent into the field and pack for that specification. Not too many growers have that labor availability these days as it is very time-consuming.

For more information:
Jerry Moran
Naturipe Farms
Tel: (+1) 831-443-2376