These California Giant Berry Farms strawberries were packed in early January.
These California Giant Berry Farms strawberries were packed in early January.

California Giant Berry Farms projects a 20% increase in blueberry volume for its 2013-14 season due to acreage increases in South America, California and the Pacific Northwest.

The Watsonville-based grower-shipper also anticipates 25% more organic strawberries this year as additional acres enter organic production.

The California portion of that growth is happening despite rainfall shortages there.

“Dry conditions in California are bringing the fruit on faster than normal, adding increased farming costs due to the need to irrigate,” Anthony Gallino, vice president of sales, said in a news release. “But we remain hopeful that we will get some good rain before spring.”

For California strawberries, the company is reducing plantings of the Benicia variety — which it found performed poorly — in favor of more San Andreas, Monterey, Portola and proprietary varieties.

California Giant also expects slightly higher overall volume on fresh blackberries being harvested in Mexico due to more acreage and demand. Recent weather delays were unlikely to continue, according to the release.

Like other importers, the grower-shipper is facing a new challenge bringing Chilean blueberries into the country after the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service issued a methyl bromide fumigation order after the European grapevine moth was detected multiple times in Chile orchards.

“APHIS continues to work closely with its Chilean counterparts along with U.S. stakeholders on this issue,” Abby Yigzaw, public affairs specialist, said Jan. 3. “The agency will revisit these new entry requirements as new information becomes available.”

California Giant’s marketing efforts for 2014 will focus on social media enhancements and partnerships with bloggers and chefs, as well as on expansion of cause marketing campaigns and business ties with produce partners and food brands.