Supplies of blueberries are on the slim side right and will likely stay that way through March. “It will be a tight month but April will be easier from a supply standpoint,” says Luciano Fiszman of Gourmet Trading Co.
Florida: Gourmet Trading will begin this month with the first U.S. blueberries in 2023 from Florida. “The fall’s hurricanes did have an impact. The state won’t be as early with blueberries as it typically is,” says Fiszman. He notes that the southern half of the state is where production will start later in March. However the balance of Florida production is in good shape and once it gets into peak weeks second half of April, there should be enough fruit to meet demand.
Fiszman says the fall’s hurricanes in Florida did have an impact on blueberry production and that the state won’t be as early with blueberries as it typically is.
That demand for U.S.-grown fruit is strong. “We have customers asking when the U.S. is going to start because they value the U.S. as a growing origin,” he says.
Georgia: Fiszman says Georgia seems to have good production this year, though all eyes are on March weather in the region. "It is looking very promising!" he says. This follows a few seasons of rough weather for Georgia.
Chile: Following a tough start, the Chilean season is finishing up shipping fruit earlier than last year due to a more condensed season on volume. The impetus was there to finish earlier this year. “The last couple of seasons have been difficult for Chile and March has been a difficult month for arrivals,” Fiszman says. “So the growers have decided to stay away from that.”
However, Chile is finishing strong on quality. “It’s good that Chile is finishing with a good market. You want people to think the last shipment is worth it,” he says, adding that late in the season saw more consistent arrivals of quality fruit. That in turn helped retailers and consumers regain confidence in the Chilean crop after a difficult start.
Mexico: Mexico is ramping up volume and increasing arrivals are being seen, though overall the market remains tight. While there’s been blueberry production in Mexico since the fall, the spring is where the bulk of the season is. “Right now it’s in Jalisco and the weather is very good and volumes are increasing and good quality is being seen on consistent arrivals,” Fiszman says.
Left to right: Adriana Fortune, Ben Martin, and Luciano Fiszman.
Good quality fruit has helped continue to push demand for the popular berry. While January saw an increase in demand given New Year’s resolutions and their effect on eating habits, what’s also emerging is a “superuser” of blueberries. “These people consume blueberries every day and will consume more blueberries than a handful of families who are occasional buyers,” he says. “They’re motivated by their health and if you have a sweet crunchy piece of fruit, it’s a great combination.” Altogether this means supply and demand are in good shape.
In turn, what’s also being seen right now is a two-tier market on blueberries. “Chilean product is one price while Mexican fruit is higher priced,” Fiszman says. “It’s product you picked that week from Mexico compared to Chilean product that will have been picked almost a month ago. There’s nothing wrong with ocean product but you pay for freshness.”
Gourmet Trading will also be at this week’s Southern Exposure show (booth #103) meeting customers and touring farms/operations.
For more information:
Gourmet Trading Co.
Tel: +1 310 216 7575 ext 1888