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Sunny Valley International looking forward to ‘bluetiful’ New Jersey crop

“Bluetiful” is a catchword that Sunny Valley International uses to encapsulate a highly desirable blueberry crop condition, and it’s using it once again to describe this season’s New Jersey crop.

In late May, Bob Von Rohr, director of customer relations for the Glassboro, NJ-based company, said this year’s New Jersey blueberry crop is on track for an outstanding season.

2009-HAMMONTON-BLUES-003New Jersey blueberries from Sunny Valley International.“Things are lining up for another ‘bluetiful’ Jersey blueberry season,” said Von Rohr. “We have had favorable weather which will give us an excellent and full crop. Timing of movements out of New Jersey appear to be heading toward a slightly early start.”

He added that indications in late May were that growers would have a good supply of labor for harvesting.

Based on bloom time, the company’s growers will start harvesting between June 10 and 12, reflecting Von Rohr’s predictions of a slightly early start.

“Our season will run from early June through the end of July,” he pointed out. “The peak harvest period for our New Jersey blues will begin around June 19 and run through mid-July, which is perfect timing for summertime promotional opportunities. We’ll have great promotable volumes for the July Fourth holiday. New Jersey blueberries have always been a July Fourth tradition with consumers, and our nice solid crop will satisfy their needs.”

He stressed that there are, however, great opportunities for New Jersey blueberry promotions beyond the holiday.

Sunny Valley’s Jersey Fruit growing partners are proud of the Highbush Duke and Bluecrop varieties. Both are well-known and sought out for their large size, nice bloom finish and outstanding flavor, and Von Rohr pointed out that customers should be thinking big — as in big blueberries this season.

To ensure that only the highest quality is harvested, New Jersey blueberries are hand-picked. The Duke is the early season variety, and the Bluecrop variety runs in mid-season to the end of the harvest. The same varieties are used for both conventional and organic production.

The company’s one-pint, 12-pack box Jersey Fruit label will continue to be its standard pack. Von Rohr said that customers are demanding more 18-ounce clamshells, 24-ounce and two-pound packs to help drive additional sales at the register.

All of Sunny Valley’s New Jersey blueberry packs carry the Jersey Fruit label with the dancing blueberry characters in a high graphic box.

Sunny Valley has partnered with its Jersey Fruit blueberry growers in establishing food safety and traceability as its first priority.

It works with the largest organic blueberry producer in New Jersey, Big Buck Farms in Hammonton. Its organic blueberries carry the Little Buck Organics label. Organic packaging options are half-pint and full-pint.

“This year is shaping up to be a record year for Big Buck Farms organic blues,” said Von Rohr. “Our Little Buck organic blueberries are certified by the Northeast Organic Farming Association of New Jersey. Organic blueberries will be available from early-June to the end of July.”

He added that overall, everything looks very promising for an excellent New Jersey blueberry season.

“With the demand for blueberries higher than ever and continually increasing due to the widespread media coverage of the health benefits, we’re happy to be bringing this high-quality crop to our customers and to consumers,” said Von Rohr.