Cindy Jewell with California Giant Berry Farms Sheds Light on Strawberry Regions, Growing Challenges, and the Holiday Market
WATSONVILLE, CA - If you ask me, it’s berry time...all the time. And if you ask the California Giant Berry Farms team, I’d imagine they’d say the same. Between retail and consumer promotions to build both the category and demand, a new data driven website, fundraisers, and another successful Tour de Fresh, California Giant has had an incredible 2017 to look back on and a busy 2018 to plan. With berries always top-of-mind for today’s consumer, I spoke with Vice President of Marketing Cindy Jewell to touch on the company’s current strawberry growing regions, the challenges and the opportunities, and what we can expect as we move toward Christmas.
“Currently, strawberry volumes are tight as they typically are during this time of year, but we expect supplies to remain steady as we move between our different growing operations,” Cindy shares with me. “Oxnard is still a developing story since the fires in Southern California are still both ongoing and moving due to the effect of continued winds. The priority for our operations in Oxnard is to ensure we don’t have workers in the field due to the smoke in the area. However, they are hoping to walk our fields in Oxnard some time next week for the first time to harvest new berries for the 2018 season. No real volume is expected from that region really, until closer to the end of the year.”
California Giant is still harvesting the company’s fall crop in Santa Maria, California, for the next couple of weeks since the weather is still so mild. The daytime temperatures are sitting comfortably in the high 70s for the next couple of weeks with lows getting cooler and moving into the low 40s.
“With these types of conditions, we should continue to get decent volume in Santa Maria through Christmas,” Cindy adds.
Florida is expecting a cold front next week, she notes, which could slow things down a little, but real volume in that region will really kick in by the beginning of January and most likely peak in mid-February for California Giant. In the meantime, Mexico is ramping up volume and the area has experienced some good weather, so each week, as Cindy shares, volume continues to increase with numbers looking good for the new year if conditions remain mild.
“Demand is steady right now and will most likely remain that way through the holidays,” Cindy anticipates. “To address demand and to try and shift consumer trends, we do a lot of social media and promotional activity to show how well berries fit into the holiday spread and we are also showcasing recipes that fall into the category. We are also running a Stocking Stuffers consumer campaign and sweepstakes and giving away a few of our ‘favorite things’ this holiday season.”
For the promotion, consumers can enter to win one of six prizes including a $100 Visa Gift Card for last minute holiday shopping, a Kitchenaid Mixer to inspire folks to mix up their own berry creations, and even a Fitbit to help shoppers meet their health goals in 2018. The Stocking Stuffers promotion will help to continue generating berry excitement around the category for California Giant’s retail partners and its vast fan-following.
For more on the strawberry category and leading-edge berry growers throughout our industry, stay tuned to the latest and greatest from AndNowUKnow.
And to all our industry friends, family, and loved ones affected, and still being affected, by the fires in Southern California, we are keeping you in our thoughts during this difficult time.