It’s the lowest time of year in terms of production for those labor intensive, hard-to-harvest raspberries. Most supply is coming out of Mexico and some from California. “But that’s obviously been impacted by all of the rains they’ve had,” explained Jim Roberts, VP of Sales for Naturipe Farms. “Even though this is the low point for production we are seeing some additional volumes in the marketplace versus a normal year because there has been additional plantings in Mexico from numerous growers as people come up with good varieties that they can grow (there).”
"People entering into the raspberry market aren’t necessarily new to the berry game – many are already producing strawberries, blueberries and blackberries," he said. There may be slight additional competition but it’s still relatively new compared to all other berries. “There are certainly a lot more blackberry, strawberry and blueberry players in Mexico than there are raspberries.”
The estimates that for the next six weeks will be in better supply than in the past for this time of year because of the new acreage. “In some years we’ve seen a pretty significant gap but there’s enough supply for people to keep raspberries as part of their offering although you wouldn’t see aggressive rasp ads until California comes on strong in mid April.” Mexican raspberries will peak towards the end of March, into April then decline early May – “then we’ll use our California fruit to supplement Mexico declining,” he said. California then becomes the primary source late spring through the summer months.
Adding organic raspberries
Mexican volumes will be up again this year – Naturipe expects an increase of about 25% over last year. We're also moving into organic raspberries, which will be available for our customers in March. “Organic is continuing to grow at a really fast rate. Organic demand is twice the rate of conventional so we want to make sure we’re in a position where we can meet the needs of our customers.”