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Southern Specialties increasing Chilean blueberry program again this year

Southern Specialties’ ‘Southern Selects’ blackberries and blueberries.

On Nov. 14, Don Guzi, category manager for Southern Specialties, headquartered in Pompano Beach, FL, told The Produce News that the company’s blueberry shipments from Chile were schedule to start on Nov. 28 and continue to increase year over year.

“We’ll start with air shipments the week after Thanksgiving,” said Mr. Guzi. “Ocean shipments will begin in mid-December and run through mid-February. Movement will continue from that point but will switch back again to air shipments, which will continue to the latter part of March.”

Mr. Guzi explained that the end-of-season blueberry shipments revert to airfreight because the company wants to ensure on time movement rather than overlapping with product from another area.

“Initial air shipments will be with six-ounce clamshells,” he said. “When we start with ocean shipments in December, we’ll have a combination of six-ounce and one-pint clamshells available.”

Mr. Guzi said, “Our Chilean blueberry program has increased again this year, as it has for about the past decade. We have added a new Chilean supplier this season to our other growers there that we’ve been working with for several years.”

Southern Specialties’ Chilean blueberries carry the company’s well-known “Southern Selects” label, which is recognized for high quality.

Charlie Eagle, vice president of business development for Southern Specialties, said that the company’s key blueberry customers continue to be major chain and independent retailers, foodservice operators, and wholesalers. The company will ship Chilean blueberries from its Pompano Beach and its Los Angeles distribution facilities.

Mr. Eagle said that the company continues to be impressed by the professionalism of its blueberry exporters in Chile. “The business practices of Chilean exporters and the increasing North American demand have inspired us to expand our supplier base to include some of the best growers in Chile,” he said. “Blueberries have become a staple in the North American retail and foodservice industries, spurred strongly by consumer awareness of the health attributes and great flavor of the fruit, making the Chilean program an important part of our seamless year-round blueberry program.”

Southern Specialties’ blueberry program starts with Argentina and finishes with British Columbia, with all the primary growing regions playing a role in the program throughout the year.

Mr. Eagle added that blueberries have also seen continual strong growth in the foodservice segment and that many restaurants today have added menu items that include the fruit.

Southern Specialties participated for the first time in the New York Produce Show Nov. 8 as an exhibitor. “We had good responses from customers in the Northeast,” said Mr. Eagle. “Overall, it was a valued experience that we feel benefited our customers in the region as well as our company.”