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Red Blossom expects volume and quality will make a smooth fall season

After a “weird” summer weather-wise, Red Blossom Sales Inc. of Fresno, CA, has its fall berry program on track, according to Craig Casca, chief executive officer and director of sales.

“The weather has been kind of weird for the whole summer,” Mr. Casca told The Produce News in late July. “It’s slowed things down, which is good for the plants; on the bad side, it’s made berry size smaller than we’d like. But in the long run we’re going to have better berries for a longer period of time.”

The slow start to the season will also allow Red Blossom to roll straight into its Florida and Mexico deals later this year without any lag.

“We absolutely need to be in the berry business 12 months of the year to take care of the customers we’re selling to these days,” said Mr. Casca.

Red Blossom launched in 2004 but has already grown to more than 500 acres in Florida and Mexico and over 2,900 acres of farms in California’s premier growing regions: Irvine, Oxnard, Santa Maria and Salinas-Watsonville.

“Our goal is going to be around 350 acres in Florida and right around 200 in central Mexico, and that’s going to fit in perfectly with our fall stuff out here in California to be able to take care of customers across the country. We’re going to have the right amount of volume to make things very smooth the whole year long,” Mr. Cascas said.

Equally important, he believes the market will stay strong — welcome news for the growers who work with Red Blossom.

“I think the market is going to maintain,” Mr. Cascas said, “Money is very tight and a lot of growers are reducing acreage. I think you’re going to see supplies be a little tighter because money is not as readily available to put in extra acreage. A lot of thought has to go into where you’re headed and what you’re doing with your numbers. At the end of the day, that’s what’s important. There’s no reason to try to harvest so many acres when you have no market for it. We want to make sure we have enough volume to fulfill the commitments we have and sell some berries in the open market and have a decent return to the field and growers.”

While the farming side of things is “business as usual,” from a packaging standpoint, “We’re looking at some things,” Mr. Casca said. “We were the first to put traceback information on the clamshells. We just did some three-pounders, which is a new pack, and Kroger is asking about RPCs [reusable plastic containers]. We’ve had requests for different kinds of packs. Every time a customer asks us, we look at it diligently, but we have to make sure it’s right for our side of the fence too.”

Red Blossom’s phenomenal growth in a short period of time is directly attributable to the people it works with, Mr. Casca said. “We’ve got a lot of good people, we’ve got great support staff in the field, and we’ve grown because we do a great job with the help of those people. David Lawrence is our president, and he is a visionary like no other. All I do is sell the berries; he makes all the right moves. We’re partners, but his vision is the one that makes it all work. We’ve got a great team and couldn’t ask for any better people to work with.”