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Calgiant

As the fall weather approaches and the leaves change color, the staff at California Giant Berry Farms is seeing peak season berries change from red to blue in anticipation of a new blueberry season emerging in South America.

While the month of October centers on a breast cancer awareness campaign for the company, it also serves as the time period when berry season begins to shift.

Strawberry supplies in California will taper off as the days get shorter and nights become cooler, but things are warming up in South America with a new blueberry crop leading the way for a whole new berry season that will be followed by Florida and Mexico strawberries.

California Giant growers in Argentina expect a strong blueberry crop beginning in early October with a peak in the first three weeks of November. This crop will transition directly into Chilean blueberry season that is scheduled to begin in November and carry the company into the spring of 2012.

Some changes noted in the marketing landscape are the early demand for blueberries from European receivers and the strong worldwide demand for processed fruit. Additionally, it was recently announced that China is opening its market to fresh Chilean blueberries.

This marks as the fifth season for California Giant blueberries in South America, with acreage and volume expected to increase significantly again this year.

South American volume is expected to increase for the company by more than 50 percent over last year. Along with that volume increase, California Giant is investing in infrastructure with more staffing, equipment, facilities and marketing focus.

Nader Musleh, general manager for California Giant in Chile, will lead the program in that region, and Cristin Flamini is managing the crop in Argentina. Both have staff assisting them and are working closely with the sales group in Watsonville, CA, where Cal Giant is headquartered.

"We see blueberry consumption continuing to rise each year and more real estate dedicated to them in the produce department," Anthony Gallino, vice president of sales at Cal Giant, said in a press release. "Our customers continue to demand quality and availability, so we are responding with increases in volume each year and partnering with key growers to build a quality blueberry program complementing our year-round strawberries."

The staff will be sharing 2012 season volume and acreage information with key customers at the Produce Marketing Association Fresh Summit convention in Atlanta, and look forward to continued expansion and growth in market share as a blueberry supplier.