Skip to main content

- Advertisement -

Dandrea focuses on the future of blueberries

By
Seth Mendelson

Blueberries have been a big part of Dandrea Produce’s operation for more than a quarter of a century. Company officials have no intention of taking their eyes off this category for years to come.

In fact, officials at Vineland, NJ-based Dandrea plan on continuing to expand their blueberry business as consumer demand for the commodity increases.

blueberries“For more than 25 years, New Jersey blueberries have been a cornerstone of Dandrea’s local produce offerings,” said Peter Dandrea, a fourth-generation owner and director of sales. “Our journey began with strategic investments in local growers, eventually leading us to purchase farms and become growers ourselves. As our New Jersey operations flourished, we expanded into imports, ensuring year-round supply for our retail partners.

“This approach not only increased our visibility, but also strengthened our New Jersey operations. Today, we continue to expand and collaborate with local growers, consistently bringing the finest blueberries to market.”

Dandrea said rising consumer demand for healthy, antioxidant-rich foods is behind the popularity of blueberries. It is also the reason the company is making sure that it well focused on year-round availability of the commodity.

“We have also seen that year-round availability, bolstered by imports from countries like Argentina, Chile, Peru and Mexico, ensures that blueberries remain a daily staple for consumers,” he noted. “Additionally, increasing popularity of organic blueberries has further fueled the overall market expansion, highlighting consumer preference for organic produce.

Dandrea has been working closely with its growers to develop breeding programs focused on new varieties with enhanced flavor, texture, shelf life and climate adaptability. “While we work to develop those new varieties, we maintain our commitment to enhancing the quality of our disease resistant and high yield varieties including Draper, Jewel, Legacy, Top Shelf and Blue Ribbon,” he said.

Experience also plays a role. “As the fourth generation has risen into leadership roles, we have placed a major focus on researching and partnering with companies that prioritize innovative cultivation techniques like controlled environment and precision agriculture,” added Dandrea, who has been with the company in a full-time capacity for about 11 years. “Sustainable practices, including reduced pesticide use, organic farming and efficient water management, are our commitment and focus.

“This dynamic market requires growers to stay informed about trends and new varieties to meet consumer demand and ensure sustainable growth,” Dandrea continued. “Overall, the blueberry market is vibrant with ongoing innovations driving its popularity, and Dandrea plans to be at the forefront of these trends.”

He expects this blueberry season to be strong, with excellent volume, sizing, and quality of the crops. “This favorable outlook is primarily due to a mild winter and a temperate spring, coupled with the absence of any major weather events thus far,” Dandrea noted. “New Jersey’s sandy, acidic soil creates an ideal environment for blueberry plants. This distinctive soil composition enhances plant health and flavor profiles, making New Jersey blueberries exceptional. Simply put, blueberries grow better here.”

There are big plans ahead to maintain the momentum. “Our long-term plans focus on sustainable growth and innovation in both our company and blueberry production,” Dandrea said. “We’re committed to expanding our acreage in New Jersey and investing in advanced agricultural technologies to enhance yield, quality and environmental sustainability. We aim to continue our partnerships with local growers while exploring new markets and diversifying our product offerings, including organic and specialty blueberry varieties."

He added that the Dandrea family sees many opportunities for future growth and they also see a great potential in leveraging precision agriculture and controlled environment farming to extend the growing season and improve efficiency.

“However, we also face challenges such as climate variability, labor shortages and the need to adapt to changing consumer preferences,” Dandrea said. “Addressing these obstacles requires ongoing investment in research and development, workforce training and robust risk management strategies. By staying ahead of industry trends and maintaining our commitment to quality and community, we are confident in our ability to keep growing both our company, and our blueberry operations, for another 107 years.”

Photo: Steve Dandrea

Tagged in:

- Advertisement -

- Advertisement -

- Advertisement -

- Advertisement -

- Advertisement -

- Advertisement -

- Advertisement -

- Advertisement -

- Advertisement -

- Advertisement -

- Advertisement -