Blueberries in abundant supply for July
June 27, 2013

Michigan growers are expecting a large crop of blueberries this summer, and they’re not alone.

“Really good crops are projected in all areas,” said Brian Bocock, Grand Junction, Mich.-based vice president of product management for Naturipe Farms LLC, Naples, Fla.

Blueberry crops from Michigan, British Columbia, New Jersey, Oregon and Washington all overlap to some degree, Bocock said.

“July will have the lowest pricing for the 12-month period,” he said.

“July and early August is a great time to promote blueberries from Michigan.”

Michigan’s harvest should start in early July. Steve Spiech, president of Spiech Farms LLC, Lawton, Mich., said it won’t take long to reach peak volumes.

“This year should start with a bang,” he said. “We have a heavy set of early blues.”

Bocock said the state will have “ample supplies” from July 10 to Aug. 10, and after Aug. 10, retailers still will have opportunities to promote smaller pack sizes through Labor Day.

Spring frosts had minimal impact on the state’s blueberries, Bocock said.

“We’ve had no issues with quality,” said Bocock, whose company is the state’s largest blueberry shipper. “Aside from one or two frost nights, we’ve had very good weather.”

Bocock said Naturipe plans to support retailers’ locally grown promotions in July in Michigan and its neighboring states.

“There’s a good following of Midwest consumers,” he said.

He also said Naturipe would help retailers promote Michigan blueberries on the East Coast after New Jersey’s crop wraps up around the third week in July.

Spiech said prices likely will be low based on Michigan’s large crop, volume from other growing areas and a process market that already has plentiful supplies.

“I think the biggest thing is that we’re going to try to steer what usually goes to processing to the fresh market,” he said.

“The frozen market is heavy. When that happens, growers try to put more in the fresh market. That floods the fresh market and drops the price.”

The Packer