California Giant Berry Farms' Nick Chappell Discusses Tight Strawberry Market
WATSONVILLE, CA - Although the winds of winter whistle outside, a large part of me yearns for the summer flavors that burst forth from berries—and I would venture to say that I am not alone among consumers. Strawberries often bring warmer weather to mind, but why should they be relegated to one season when demand persists year-round? I spoke with Nick Chappell, Director of Retail Sales at California Giant Berry Farms, to find out the current state of the market and what I, and the berry-loving public, can expect to find on the produce shelves in the coming months.
“The current market is tight on strawberries and should remain snug for the next couple of weeks,” he said. “There will be more product after the 1st of the year. There are promotable volumes on blackberries, blueberries, and raspberries now and for the next several weeks.”
California Giant is currently harvesting its strawberries in Santa Maria and Oxnard, California; Central Mexico; and Plant City, Florida and is now packing fruit in California, Mexico, and Florida. Despite the tight market, the overall price and demand for strawberries is strong, and the quality is just as high as you would expect from the venerable grower. As of now, supplies are limited due to rain and low temperatures in California, though the numbers are expected to increase each week in Mexico and Florida. Although the weather in California has been tricky for growers this season, Nick reminded me that not all showers are bad.
“We have had some nice rains here in California over the past several weeks, which is anticipated this time of year and much needed,” he commented. “The weather in Florida has been nice, however, there is a little rain in the forecast later this week. Overall in Mexico, the temperatures have been nice—cool in the evening and warm during the day.”
With increasing demand and volume, now would be a good time to promote strawberries in the produce aisle. Retailers can even use the holidays to their advantage by opening consumers’ minds to the many unexpected uses for strawberries—perhaps as a salad accoutrement? Or maybe a surprising addition to a cheese tray? Whatever the use, strawberries are a year-round treat that exude warmer days, so what could be better to tempt consumers than a taste of summer on a cold winter’s eve?
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