“Over the last few weeks, Sun Belle’s volumes of raspberries have been about 50 percent more than at the same time last year,” said Janice Honigberg, president of Sun Belle Inc. in Schiller Park, Il.
“Over the next few weeks, our volumes will be about 30-35 percent more than the same time period last year.” She adds that Sun Belle’s volumes from the last week of May throughout June are considerably larger than last year. “We will have more product to make a strong finish at the end of the season,” says Honigberg. Honigberg notes that while California currently has limited production, it should increase week to week.
What remains a challenge for raspberries are their high perishability factor and the pressure that might put on marketers. “The market can move downwards suddenly if any major shipper has too much fruit to move,” she says.
As for demand, Honigberg notes that—as many growers and shippers of a variety of commodities have found recently—the pandemic-related fluctuations in demand have been challenging. “But we are starting to understand the trends now,” she adds. She also says she sees more and more enthusiastic purchasing coming in the next month or two as consumers treat themselves to healthy eating options. “Over the longer term, we see raspberry consumption increasing with further development of excellent new raspberry varieties,” says Honigberg.
In fact, Sun Belle, through its agreements with the Advanced Berry Breeding (ABB) from the Netherlands and Ithaca, NY-based Cornell University, is extensively testing raspberry selections and varieties from both breeding programs with its partner, Giddings Fruit Mexico in Central Mexico. “This coming season we’ll market commercial production of 10-20 hectares of a wonderful new ABB selection,” says Honigberg. “In addition, we will be marketing 40 hectares of varieties developed by Giddings’ genetics team.”
As for pricing, Honigberg says prices are firming up though they are still much lower than they were a year ago. “In the next few weeks, we expect good movement and stronger pricing,” she says.