California Giant Berry Farms’ Markus Duran and Kyla Oberman Discuss the Current Blueberry Market
- by Jenna Plasterer
WATSONVILLE, CA - Healthy snacking is always top of mind in the summer months, and California Giant Berry Farms’ blueberries are ready to fulfill both retail and consumer needs. With good quality, organic and conventional varieties, and promotional supplies expected in the next few months, the berry experts have some vital insights for buyers as they set their sights on seasonal blueberry merchandising strategies.
Currently, the blueberry market is in a transitional period, according to Markus Duran, North American Blueberry Operations Manager, but promotional volumes for the domestic supply are expected for May through August.
“The theme of this year’s domestic blueberry season has been a slow start across the supply chain from East and West coast production,” says Markus. “Ultimately pushing early season demand and pricing to levels we haven’t seen for several seasons.”
As California Giant moves toward summertime promotional volumes, the grower has some tools up its sleeve to help boost the success of its retail partners. This includes a new BUY NOW widget added to the company’s Product Locator section on its website, allowing shoppers to add California Giant products directly to their digital shopping baskets while searching for nearby brick-and-mortar locations. In addition, the company has also implemented fruitful retailer marketing strategies to draw attention to the category.
“The California Giant team is driven to provide the best possible quality and a consistent supply that our customers can count on,” says Kyla Oberman, Director of Marketing. “When it comes to shopper marketing, we work with retailers to provide digital media, berry nutrition information, growing facts, and other talking points. We are also participants of the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council’s strategic positioning and call-to-action, Grab a Boost of Blue, which is focused on driving demand and increasing blueberry sales.”
California Giant's current Mexican operations have just come off their peak supply window; Florida is at its peak; and Georgia and Central Valley, California, crops are preparing to boost supply in mid-May.
Additionally, the berry purveyor is expecting a record-breaking year for its Oregon-grown blueberries. The region is seeing all-time production highs and an expected increase in both conventional and organic volume this summer across Pacific Northwest Farms. Despite late starts in other regions, Oregon is anticipating normal start dates occurring around the second or third week of June, just in time to meet summer demand.
In terms of quality, Markus tells me that the slow start to the season has not had harmful effects on the packed fruit going to market. Although weather events have caused some significant damage to the plants surrounding pollination and total yield for the Georgia crop.
“Overall, blueberry quality has been very good in terms of size, bloom, firmness, and flavor across all areas,” comments Markus.
I know I am smiling thinking about the blueberries and warm weather to come here in the Northern Hemisphere, and I’m sure shoppers will be too as they fill their fridges with California Giant berries.