Blueberries remain strong for Homegrown Organic Farms

homegrownblues Homegrown Organic Farms begins harvesting its blueberries in the San Joaquin Valley and moves north into Oregon as the season progresses.

Stephen Paul, stone fruit and blueberry category director for the Porterville, CA-based company, said the region’s dry and sunny climate conditions and Homegrown Organic Farms’ southern highbush varieties, provide “king-size” berries — all grown using certified organic farming methods.

“We were one of the earlier founders of blueberries in the state,” he said. “The Avinelis family was a pioneer in establishing some of the earliest varieties here in the San Joaquin Valley. Ever since then, there has been an evolution of improvement on multiple levels.”

That includes on the farming practice, varietal offerings, expansion into different regions, packaging equipment and mechanical harvesting.

“Over the last 20 years, blueberries have transitioned from a specialty crop into a global commodity available year-round,” Paul said. “The quality is getting better and better, and it’s not done, it’s continuing to evolve.”

He noted those who have adapted to the changes are the ones doing well. That’s never been more of a reality than with what’s been going on the past few months. Paul has been impressed with how the company has transitioned and adapted to COVID-19 concerns.

“We almost haven’t missed a beat,” he said. “We’ve moved into digital technology offerings to keep us all connected and it has mandated us to be on a high level of communications. It’s helped us to be more efficient, more streamlined and really more organized.”

In terms of harvesting, he credits the growers and their abilities to accommodate the necessary requirements of social distancing and controlling the environment in a very professional way.

“That goes from the field to the packaging operation to the cold storage,” Paul said. “As a company — and an industry — I think we’ve adapted quite well.”

As for the blueberry crop, Paul shared that there’s been a decent crop in California this year, and it went fairly smoothly outside of just a few storms and some excessive heat.

“We had a fairly nice crop and moved it quite well,” he said. “One of the things that happened is we went into the COVID-19 thing unknowing. We moved into larger box styles earlier so when the consumers went shopping, they had better value with more volume on the retail shelves. That proved to be very effective.”

As the company transitions to the northwestern area, Paul believed those larger formats will continue to sell well now that the consumers have gotten used to buying it that way, which will be profitable for the growers.

“Blueberries are a great comfort food,” he said. “There’s a certain happiness to it at a time when we’re seeing so many uncertainties, and it doesn’t require any prep. It’s just a great healthy snack that allows for enjoyment. Plus, the eating quality this year has been really good across the board, and that’s important.”

The secret to a good blueberry program, he noted, is consistency.

“You need high-quality, transparency, integrity and great growers,” Paul said. “We have a good seasoned team under us that is knowledgeable about the commodity and we know how to deliver the right product to the right retailer and get the product in the consumers’ hands.”

tpn daily signup

Congdon Orchards joins Sage Fruit Co.
Sage Fruit Co. will add Congdon Orchards to its team of grower-packer-shippers of Washington tree fruit, effective Aug. 1. Congdon joins Sage Fruit to enhance the marketing, sales and distribution of its fruit. Through this new partnership, Sage Fruit will add considerable volume of Washington state apples, pears and Read More ...
Stop & Shop launches Nutrition Partners to support health and wellness
Stop & Shop announced the launch of Nutrition Partners, its new dietitian Program. Available digitally at no cost to customers, the program connects Stop & Shop shoppers with licensed registered dietitians for nutrition consultations and help with making healthier food choices. Stop & Shop’s team of dietitians will also Read More ...
Someone is crying over this $30 million onion shipment
U.S. Customs and Border Protection Office of Field Operations at the Pharr International Bridge cargo facility intercepted a huge amount of alleged methamphetamine valued at $30.56 million that was being smuggled in a commercial tractor/trailer hauling fresh onions from Mexico. “This is certainly a substantial amount of Read More ...
Watermelon board launches 2020 challenge
The National Watermelon Promotion Board kicked off its annual consumer recipe contest – but this time with a twist. Unlike in year’s past where consumers were asked to create and submit an original watermelon-focused recipe, in 2020 NWPB tasks fans with putting their own unique spin on existing recipes and carvings found on the newly Read More ...
Progressive Produce begins harvest of California chili peppers
Progressive Produce has begun harvesting the first fields of its 2020 California Jalapeño, Anaheim and Pasilla chili peppers. “Our yields this year are strong, and we’re excited about the high-quality of our crop,” said Veronica Rodarte, chili commodity manager for Progressive Produce. “The plants are packed with Read More ...

Market Watch

the source pro-act

Western growing regions getting hit by rain, cooler temps

floral pulse