(UPDATED COVERAGE, April 28) A Florida grower-shipper is marketing pesticide residue-free blueberries at a price comparable to conventional blueberries.
Plant City-based Wishnatzki Farms began shipping pesticide residue-free blueberries from the Plant City area in mid-April, said Gary Wishnatzki, the companyâs president.
"Pesticide residue-free" means that a minimal amount of pesticides were used on crops, and that on the final product, no pesticide residues were found (less than .01 parts per million), said Amber Kosinsky, Wishnatzki Farms' marketing director.
The berries are available in light volumes at select Eastern retailers, but as volumes increase, so will distribution, Wishnatzki said.
Grower partners in Georgia, Michigan, Chile and other regions have agreed to grow pesticide residue-free berries for Wishnatzkiâs Wish Farms label, Wishnatzki said.
âItâs an exciting time for us,â he said. âWhen you talk to consumers, theyâre excited, too. A lot of people want to buy organic but they canât afford it.â
Wishnatzki Farms will be able to keep the price of its pesticide residue-free blueberries at or near the price of conventional berries because blueberries are relatively easy to grow with minimal pesticides, Wishnatzki said.
âA lot of blueberry growers are already doing it, theyâre just not marketing it as such,â he said.
While some growers will continue to use more pesticides, Wishnatzki said the majority of the companyâs partners have agreed to grow with minimal pesticides, though there may be fields or seasons where they still use more pesticides.
âThis will be a big percentage of our offerings,â he said.
While itâs relatively easy to grow blueberries with minimal pesticides, itâs harder to grow them without non-organic fertilizers, Wishnatzki said.
Wish Farmsâ pesticide residue-free blueberry packs will include the logo of Scientific Certification Systems, the third-party sustainability and environmental certification provider that is certifying the Wishnatzki berries.
Wishnatzki Farms also has experimented with growing strawberries with minimal pesticides, and could market them in the future, but Wishnatzki said itâs harder to grow strawberries with minimal pesticides.