U.S.: Wish Farms offers year-round blackberries amid 'tremendous growth'
Complementing its year-round supplies of blueberries and strawberries, Florida-headquartered Wish Farms is now offering blackberries for 12 months a year.
The company director of raspberry and blackberry operations José Saca said the fruit would be sourced from the Mexican state of Michoacan and various U.S. growing regions.
"The Mexican season starts in the last weeks of September and goes all the way through to about May. The season peaks in November and December then everything cools down a bit and the plants are pruned. Then in April and May the growers harvest for a second time," he told www.freshfruitportal.com.
"After that in around May the Georgia season starts, followed by North Carolina which will give us fruit in June, July and August. We also have some volumes from California."
He said August was typically the most challenging month to source blackberries.
Wish Farms' decision to adopt a year-round program is due to the rising levels of consumer demand and increasing customer requests.
Saca said while blackberries were far less popular in the U.S. compared to other fruits in the berry category, he believed a strong future was in store.
"Nobody pays much attention to them, but in terms of health, studies have shown they are high in antioxidants, just as much or even higher than blueberries," he said.
"I believe that they are going to become more and more sought after by consumers, especially given that there are also some improved varieties.
"A lot of people here in the United States remember blackberries when their grandparents would go into the woods to pick them and use the fruit in cobblers and pies because they were quite acidic and tart, but the main variety that Mexico exports, the Tupi, and some of the varieties in Georgia and North Carolina are very good."
He said a popular variety amongst U.S. growers was the trademarked Prime-Ark 45, which was developed by the University of Arkansas.
Saca added that the blackberry industry had grown 'tremendously' in percentage terms over recent years.