California Frozen Strawberry Pack Tops 400 Million Pounds

The strawberry harvest in California for frozen processors is over, with over 400 million pounds was packed in 2014. That’s about the same as the last two years, noted Peter Skolnick, president of Monterey, California-headquartered Imperial Frozen Foods, in a market update posted on December 1.

“The farmers received 20% more per pound than they did in 2013,” he reported. “This helped with supply but did little to decrease demand. The bottom line is that there were 77 million fewer pounds in the freezer as of October 31, 2014 than there were on Oct. 31, 2013. There is only one conclusion – higher demand for frozen fruit. Strawberries are the most popular and are priced reasonably.”

Skolnick provided a rundown on other segments of the market, as detailed below.

Red Raspberries: Overall stocks of frozen raspberries are down about 10%. This has kept pricing higher than the market will bear long term. Chile is just starting to harvest red raspberries for export to the United States and Europe. One may expect pricing to continue to be strong on high-quality IQF raspberries, while weaker on other pack styles. The quality and yield is expected to be favorable.

Blueberries: The North American blueberry crop has been completed for a few months now. Cold storage inventories are slightly higher than they were in 2013. Supply and demand is in balance. Pressure for increased pricing from South America has been met with some resistance.

Mexican Blackberries: Shoppers in the United States visiting the produce section in their local supermarket have seen that Mexico has been supplying high-quality fresh blackberries for the past few years. Increasingly, like most other fruit, a portion of the harvest goes to the freezer at times of peak supply. The good news is that supplies of blackberries for the freezer seem ample and pricing is reasonable. No longer is Chile the only place to go for frozen blackberries in the winter.

Mango: Consumers in North America have come to love the juicy, naturally sweet mango fruit. During a recent visit to Peru, meeting with processors and growers, it was confirmed that supply is down and demand is strong. The new crop started later than usual, which just adds fuel to the demand for higher pricing. Additional countries to look at carefully for increased supply are in Asia – particularly Vietnam and Thailand) for increased supply.

Check out the Mango Crop Report, which is updated every seven to 14 days with information from the countries that are currently exporting mangos, or will begin shipping soon.

You will find all you want to know about Argentinean Blueberries at the www.argblueberry.com website.

The California Strawberry Association's Fresh Volume Pink Sheet is available for November 22, 2014.