Organic growers across the produce industry expect high volumes and quality for upcoming crops. Steve Lutz, vice president of marketing for Columbia Marketing International, Wenatchee, Wash., said he expected to see volumes up 20%.
“People have been reinvesting in their orchards, taking out less productive land and replacing it with better varieties,” he said.
“Every acre that comes out is replanted, so as years pass you see overall production increase.”
Lutz said crop quality for organic Washington apples was excellent, fueled by a “perfect harvest window.”
“I think people are excited about the quality.”
Berj Moosekian, general manager of V.H. Azhderian & Co., echoed similar sentiments. The Los Banos, Calif.-based company specializes in organic cantaloupe, galia, sharlyn and orange-flesh melons.
“Quality is good,” he said.
Fruit from South America should be stable as well. David Posner, president and CEO of Awe Sum Organics, Santa Cruz, Calif., commented on the state of apple and pear imports from Chile and Peru.
“Apple volumes are looking to be 14% less than last year, but size is looking to be bigger. Last year’s sizing was smaller due to a freeze, so sizing will be more in the normal range. Pears look like a normal crop volume, normal size.”
Vegetables are also making a solid showing as crops shift from domestic to Mexican markets. Even the recent rains in California will have minimal impact on quality, growers say.
“Greens, red bell peppers, zucchini, globe eggplant are all strong,” said Robert Schueller, director of public relations for Los Angeles-based World Variety Produce, which markets under the Melissa’s label.
“We’ve got great growers with a great organics program, so there are no expected gaps in supply.”