Varietal selection in organics market

Better yields, longer shelf-life, and taste go a long way with retailers and consumers. Everyone wants to develop a better berry; but for some consumers it’s all about growing method.

While the majority of berries are still grown conventionally, organics are gaining ground—at least metaphorically.

They may not command the prices they once did, but consumers are still willing to pay a 20- to 50-percent premium for organic berries according to Jack Cain, vice president of sales and marketing for Always Fresh Farms in Winter Haven, Florida.

“Organic farms are getting more efficient with their growing practices and their yields,” he said.

When it comes to developing new varieties, several berry categories are making news.

To meet demand and keep pricing palatable, Cain said “We’re going to have to continue to improve quality through genetics: better taste, better shelf life, more disease resistant, and better harvesting.”

New varieties planted and harvested at different times can also help.

Cain said that Sweet Sensation, a newer strawberry variety in Florida, is starting to replace Radiance as the berry of choice.

Cain describes Sweet Sensation strawberries as “a nice, bright berry,” one popular with consumers due to its “colour and conical shape.” Overall, it’s simply a good looking and tasting berry.

Source: Produce Blueprints quarterly journal