Strong California strawberry volumes coming off peak

From Fresh Plaza | 18 July 2022

Overview of strawberries from California in the U.S. market, complemented by charts from Agronometrics. Original published on July 18, 2022. 

California strawberries are just coming over the crest of peak supplies in its strong summer season. “We’ve had a fairly excellent peak run of berries out of Watsonville that probably lasted six weeks of tremendous numbers,” says Jim Grabowski of Well Pict.

While the California strawberry industry as a whole saw an increase in acreage this season, the growth of the plants themselves was strong as well. “The quality has been very good and there were larger berries this season,” says Grabowski.

strawberry volumes by or 19

Source: USDA Market News via Agronometrics.
(Agronometrics users can view this chart with live updates here)

From here on in, production will start tapering down for the remainder of the season out of Watsonville by about 10 percent. “But that means for example rather than picking 100,000 berries a day they’re picking maybe 90,000 berries a day. There’s still going to be a lot of berries,” he says, noting the berry sizing also may move down to a medium-large sizing as well. That production will continue to wind down until likely the end of September when Well Pict moves over to its summer/fall crop out of Oxnard, California.

Commercial and local availability

While California is the home to commercial strawberry production in the country right now, there are also local deals across the country as well for strawberries.

As for demand, it’s steady and good. “Though this is probably the hardest time for us because we’re competing against all the other summer fruit available. There are a lot of items in the produce department that customers can choose from. But strawberries are also still a summer fruit,” Grabowski says.

And the recent shorter supplies of blueberries for the July 4th weekend, a strong berry-associated holiday, could have helped boost demand for strawberries. “If they didn’t have blueberries to promote at the store level then strawberries would be the natural item to take their place,” says Grabowski. “Strawberries probably get a good play at this time of year with lots of outdoor activities like picnics, barbecues, family gatherings, etc. That holiday was also probably the last “big hurrah” for strawberries on holidays.”

As for pricing, it’s been trending lower given strawberries are on the promotable side. “Though you’re probably not seeing any super deals because transportation costs have gone up. That’s maybe making the retail prices a little higher than people have seen in the past. But overall they’re still a good deal for this time of year,” says Grabowski.

strawberry prices by his 4

Source: USDA Market News via Agronometrics.
(Agronometrics users can view this chart with live updates here)

The News in Charts is a collection of stories from the industry complemented by charts from Agronometrics to help better tell their story.

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