U.S.:Blueberries promotable into August
July 29, 2013

Grower-shippers of blueberries on both coasts expect promotable volumes of high-quality fruit through at least mid-August.

Big volumes of blueberries from Oregon and British Columbia in July and August — and likely even into September — should mean lower prices and abundant promotional opportunities for retailers, said Cindy Jewell, marketing director for California Giant Berry Farms, Watsonville, Calif.

On July 9, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported prices of $16.75-17.80 for flats of 12 1-pint cups with lids medium and large from Oregon and Washington, down from $20.50-22.90 last year at the same time.

The transition from California to Oregon and British Columbia went more smoothly than usual this year for Cal Giant, which sources from all three regions, Jewell said.

Thanks in large part to young plants producing more and more fruit each year, Cal Giant expects its blueberry volumes to be up 30% this year, Jewell said.

Both Oregon and British Columbia have enjoyed good growing weather, and growers are reporting good size, taste and movement through early July, Jewell said.

“I’m not getting any consumer complaints,” she said.

Overnight rains have caused a few harvest delays in the Hammonton, N.J., growing area, but for the most part, high temperatures and humidity have meant big volumes, said Tim Wetherbee, sales manager for Diamond Blueberry Inc., Hammonton, N.J.

“We’re pretty well into it, the quality’s good and a lot has been picked in a short period of time,” Wetherbee said July 9. “The berries are coming along quickly.”

Even with some growers coming up short on labor, weekly volumes out of New Jersey have been ample.

“We’re moving along a lot better than a lot of people anticipated,” Wetherbee said.

Competition from Oregon, British Columbia and other regions was keeping a lid on markets, Wetherbee said.

“Demand’s good but not great,” he said.

On July 9, the USDA reported prices of $13-14 for flats of 12 1-pint containers with lids medium and large from New Jersey, down from $18-18.50 last year.

Diamond expects to ship elliots through about mid-August, Wetherbee said.

Photo: Courtesy California Giant

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