U.S.: California Giant forecasts record blueberry crop
Watsonville-based California Giant Berry Farms has announced expectations for a record North American blueberry crop this season, which will take off at the end of this month.
California Giant's operations manager for North America, Evan Pence, explained the production pipeline as the company's Chilean supply winded down.
"Our California coast should ramp-up the last week of March with a peak in mid-April followed by the Central Valley through June. Georgia should start in late April and carry on through late June as well," Pence said in a release.
"Overall, we are forecasting a 40% increase over last year in total volume, mostly due to maturing acreage in California, Oregon and British Columbia as well as the addition of our new grower in Georgia."
The company has developed marketing efforts to gain more interest from consumers, following U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council (USHBC) research that shows consumers were more likely to buy blueberries in the coming year in 2013 than they were in 2004 or 2008, with expectations to buy the fruit more often.
One of the group's marketing initiatives will include a fresh blueberry recipe e-booklet, with recipes submitted by consumers that entered a contest partnered with Concord Foods.
In other berries, the company's strawberry season began much sooner than expected this year, due to mild weather, spring-like conditions and a lack of winter rain.
"Even with this recent storm, the lack of rainfall is very unusual so we are not sure what to expect with plant vigor at this point," said VP of sales Anthony Gallino.
"We are still looking forward to a strong California season, but as usual it is all up to Mother nature.
"Additionally, this recent rain over the weekend is definitely welcomed throughout the state."