“The blueberry market has started to loosen up,” says Paul Smit with California Fruit Company. The market has been exceptionally tight, but supplies from Argentina are improving and prices are coming down. In addition to Argentina, Smit also imports blueberries from Peru and will transition into Chile just before the New Year.
Experimenting with new varieties
“Overall, it has been a tough blueberry season,” admitted Smit. Although weather played a role in Argentina’s limited supplies, the tight market was largely caused by growers experimenting with different varieties. “There has been a lot of experimenting going on out of the Duke variety and the new varieties don’t always generate the yields that growers anticipate,” mentioned Smit. In Chile, growers aren’t planting as much as they got hurt by trade embargos. The blueberry crop appears to be risky and acreage is being pulled as a result. Blueberries are replaced by more stable crops. “We are seeing the same trend in California. Low prices have forced growers to pull acreage. This year was one of the worst blueberry years on record.”
Organic blueberries are an uphill battle
Smit believes the domestic market for organic blueberries is going to be marginal. “The organic regulations become more stringent and unrealistic. It is becoming too tough to grow organic blueberries,” he added. They are priced out of the ad items and sold at a high price point. “Although consumers want organic blueberries with their lips, they don’t want to pay for them with their wallets. It’s an uphill battle.”
Stable market for blackberries
News from the blackberry market is more hopeful. “Supplies out of Mexico are stable at the moment,” mentioned Smit. During the country’s nine-month supply window, availability goes up and down. “Right now, production is in full swing and prices are average,” shared Smit. According to the USDA, blackberries out of Mexico recorded $16.21 for a flat on November 12.
For more information:
California Fruit Company
Tel: (+1) 877-378-4811