Bobalu Berry Farms' Cindy Jewell Discusses Current Berry Market
OXNARD, CA - With the summer season now in its second half, category shifts are taking place across the produce department. The berry set continues to serve as a central shopper destination, and I had the chance to discuss the state of the current market with Bobalu Berry Farms’ Cindy Jewell of Marketing.
“The market is definitely tight right now and most likely will be into Labor Day,” she began. “Our weekly volume as a state was strong in July, but August typically takes a dip and keeps the market tighter until the fall crop takes off during September and October. Pricing this year is higher than the same time last year, but our total cumulative volume to date is also well behind last year. We are seeing other summer fruits starting to drop off, which puts us back in a primary position in the produce department.”
Cindy told me that Bobalu is winding down its spring strawberry season in Santa Maria, California, and has just started harvesting its new fall crop in the same region. The grower continues to see excellent quality and fruit size and has enjoyed mild weather which helped create optimum plant health resulting in large, full-colored fruit packed with flavor. Because volume has been a bit lighter than last year, demand is expected to remain strong all summer.
“Our spring season did start later due to weather patterns early in the season, but it evened out by the time we got into May and has been mild ever since,” said Cindy. “Since the weather patterns have been a bit cooler with coastal fog, it is also bringing our fall season on slower with most likely a longer ramp up to peak harvest.”
In terms of flavor, Bobalu is capturing the attention of buyers and shoppers alike.
“We have received so many compliments from our retail partners and directly from consumers on quality this year. It is important to give kudos to our team in the field; they keep us on rotation on every ranch so we don't fall behind in getting fruit picked. This is critical and challenging due to labor issues throughout the distribution system,” Cindy stated. “Despite these labor challenges, our retail partners have kept fruit moving on display, so consumers can continue buying berries as they get back to more normal shopping habits.”
Do you have berries displayed prominently in the produce aisle? To echo Cindy’s sentiments in this market update, I would highly recommend it.