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Atlantic’s Art Galletta ready for Jersey blues to start

HAMMONTON, NJ — The 2014 New Jersey blueberry season should start “a little later than last year,” according to Art Galletta, president of Atlantic Blueberry Co., based in the southern New Jersey community that is known as “The Blueberry Capital of the World.”

The season “looks to start around June 18” and “should quickly ramp up,” Galletta told The Produce News Wednesday, May 28.

Volume statewide last year was “pretty good,” he said, coming in around 65 million pounds.

NJblues1163Art Galletta, president of Atlantic Blueberry Co. (Photo by Gordon M. Hochberg)As to the upcoming season, Galletta said, “I wouldn’t want to put a number on it,” but “depending upon the weather” leading up to the harvest, “it could be similar volume to last year.”

When asked about the sizing of the berries this season, he said “sizing is always a question-mark” until the berries actually start to get harvested. But he added with confidence, “Quality in New Jersey is always good.”

Looking specifically at Atlantic Blueberry Co., which has been owned and operated by the Galletta family for more than 75 years and markets its berries under the Naturipe Farms brand, the company president said, “We’re looking at a nice crop. With better weather, we could do a little better with the fresh market. Last year was very challenging because of the weather,” meaning untimely rainfall.

Over the previous winter months, the company did not initiate any major renovations to its facility, but Galletta did say that “we’re adding some fill-by-weight equipment,” which he fully expected to be in place by the start of the 2014 season.

In addition, “We’ve been replacing some older stuff with newer varieties that we think will work well for the New Jersey market,” he said.

With the harvest of Jersey blueberries just weeks away from the date of this interview, Galletta was eagerly awaiting the season, just as retailers and consumers do year after year. With some favorable weather, those retailers and consumers would not be disappointed.

As Galletta said with pride, “There are a lot of good farmers in New Jersey. You can always depend on New Jersey for consistency and quality.”