Wish Farms' Jose Saca and Amber Maloney Talk Blackberry Volume, Demand, and New Cooler
PLANT CITY, FL - From demand to supply, it looks as if blackberries are booming. Wish Farms is hunkering down for a bountiful season, with more in the works to feed the growing hunger from consumers.
“From a demand perspective, we see no sign of the berry boom slowing down. Net growth for blackberries and raspberries has been higher compared to strawberries and blueberries because there is more room to grow,” shares Director of Blackberry and Raspberry Operations, Jose Saca.
Wish Farms moved into year-round shipping of the category in 2016. Now, the company grows and markets blackberries from Mexico and the Southeast United States, as well as Santa Maria, California.
“Berries are a major sales driver for retailers. Strawberries are the leader in consumer berry consumption, but now other berries are helping to expand the category. The popularity of strawberries and blueberries has helped propel the growth of the cane berry industry,” Amber Maloney, Director of Marketing, says.
It’s hard to believe that it’s only in the last decade that blackberries have been available at retail 52 weeks a year in our industry, but the Wish Farms team tells me it’s consumer demand that has helped drive production. When I ask about what’s next, Jose is excited to share about one variety in particular.
“Wish Farms is very excited about Primark 45, a primocane variety that produces flower and fruit on canes that grow in the same year allowing for a summer and fall crop. This variety was introduced by the University of Arkansas in 2009 by Dr. John Clark. The fruit has exceptional shipping quality, which is key for retail shelf-life,” he comments.
Primark 45, Jose explains, is consistently sweet, has good size and texture.
“Our Wish Farms blackberry program grows a combination of primocane and floricane varieties both domestically and abroad. We are growing Primark 45 at our company-owned farm in Santa Maria, California, and in the hills of Shelby, North Carolina,” he adds.
In 2018, Wish Farms completed a 7,500-square-foot cooler in Shelby, North Carolina, to manage its NC-Southeast blackberry program. Amber tells me that all Wish Farms blackberries in the region will ship from this facility after a thorough quality control inspection. Wish Farms will also ship from a facility in Homerville, GA, and its headquarters in Plant City, Florida.
“This new construction was essential for our operation as we continuously aim to provide premier products and customer service,” she concludes.
With a promising crop on the horizon, and plans in place for improved means to get them to market, AndNowUKnow will keep you up to date on this and other fresh produce developments.