California Giant Expecting Record Blueberry Season


Even as California gets some of that long-anticipated winter rain, spring is emerging in California Giant's berry fields. The company is expecting a record North American blueberry crop that is set to begin by the end of this month.

"Our California coast should ramp up the last week of March, with a peak in mid-April, followed by the Central Valley through June. Georgia should start in late April and carry on through late June as well," says Evan Pence, California Giant operations manager for North America.

With the Chilean blueberry season winding down for the company, the blueberry crop from North America should fill the pipeline at an opportune time.

California Giant Berry Farms has been building their blueberry program every year consistently for the past several years and looking forward to another increase this season. "Overall, we are forecasting a 40 percent increase over last year in total volume, mostly due to maturing acreage in California, Oregon and British Columbia, as well as the addition of our new grower in Georgia," says Pence.

Following up on that volume and continued increased consumer demand for blueberries, California Giant has developed marketing efforts to capture more consumer interest in their brand. Research just released by the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council shows that in 2013, consumers were more likely to buy blueberries in the coming year than they were in 2004 or 2008, and likely to buy them more often. That, along with other positive purchasing behavior data, is encouraging, and California Giant is ready with the launch of their complete new fresh blueberry recipe e-booklet filled with unique and delicious recipes developed by consumers who entered their blueberry recipe contest, in which they partnered with Concord Foods.
Additionally, California Giant's fresh strawberry season has kicked off in California much sooner than expected due to mild weather and springlike conditions, along with the lack of winter rain. "The lack of rainfall is very unusual, so we are not sure what to expect with plant vigor at this point. We are still looking forward to a strong California season, but as usual it is all up to Mother Nature," says Anthony Gallino, vice president of sales for California Giant.

There is optimism that a late Easter closer to Mother's Day will also benefit all fresh berries coming into production, as winter weather will hopefully subside in receiving markets. "We look forward to working with our retail partners to promote throughout the spring and summer as California weather gets into a normal pattern," adds Gallino.

For more information:
Cindy Jewell
California Giant Berry Farms
Tel: 831-728-1965 x258