Keith Mixon, president of Sunnyridge Farm Inc., in Orlando, FL, told The Produce News that the company is one of the larger importers of Argentina blueberries in the United States.
“Almost 19 percent of the country’s volume moves through us,” said Mr. Mixon. “And we’re expecting a great program this year. The weather in Argentina has been wonderful for growing blueberries. Movement should start a little early or at least on time. We’re not sure at this point what a ‘normal’ start time is because there haven’t been two years that were alike in the past few.”
Mr. Mixon said that good, promotable volumes should be arriving in mid-October, or week 42. The first shipments out of Tucuman, Argentina, will start during week 39 and end in week 46, with the peak period around week 42.
“Condordia, the central region of Argentina, will follow in week 40,” said Mr. Mixon. “This program will peak starting on week 43 or 44 for about two weeks. This is about the same time that movement starts from Uruguay.”
Following the start of these programs, the southern region of Argentina will start shipping blueberries, at about week 45.
“This adds up to about six weeks of steady volume that goes to the world from Argentina,” said Mr. Mixon. “The heaviest volumes — about 60 percent — of blueberries from Argentina come to the U.S.”
Sunnyridge Farm’s Chilean blueberry program will start around Dec. 1. Mr. Mixon said that he was in the country in late August, and things were “just waking up.”
“It’s a little too early to predict exactly,” he said. “It’s more theoretical, but the weather has been very favorable in Chile, and growers are expecting a good season. The Chilean movement goes through March.”
Sunnyridge Farm then starts its domestic season. But in the middle of all of these programs, Mexico steps in with small volumes from the winter months through May.
The company’s import berry programs include raspberries from Chile and Mexico. The run time for Chilean product starts in December. There is a gap and movement begins again in February.
Mexico raspberries start on November 1 and run through May.
Blackberries from Mexico will start at the first of October. This program extends through May.
“During the winter, most of our strawberries come from Florida and parts of California,” said Mr. Mixon. “But Mexico has a program that starts in December and ends in February.”
Mr. Mixon said that he expects market prices on imported berries to be similar to last year or even a little higher.
“The frozen and processing industries, as well as the export markets, are very aggressive, and the demand is strong,” he said. “This will make it a good market for everyone involved in berries.
“Volumes of blueberries from Argentina are expected to be up by about 15 percent this season, and Chile is reporting an increase of about 25 percent,” Mr. Mixon continued. “The question is, how much of the increase will be taken by the processing market. I don’t think the fresh market will see the entire increase, but we should see close to about 10 percent more this year.”
Mr. Mixon finished by saying that he is looking forward to seeing everyone at the Produce Marketing Association Fresh Summit in October.