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Diamond Blueberry taking steps toward a successful season

By
JD LaTorre

With rising input costs and supply chain issues, grower Diamond Blueberry Inc., based in Hammonton, NJ, has taken mitigating steps toward a successful season. “We bought supplies early so we would have a good supply of inputs to start out with,” said Diamond’s David Berger. “We wanted to get a jump on having everything we needed. We are preparing now and trying to think ahead to be able to have the supply for our customers.”

The grower has also purchased more picking machines in response to growing labor constraints. “With the rising labor issues, labor is tight,” said Berger. “We purchased four more picking machines. We try to do as much by hand as possible but the last couple of years have been difficult with the labor shortage and cost. Now we have a total of 18 machines.  We’ve also been trying to do equipment repairs in-house as much as possible.”

Diamond also prepared for the challenges of future seasons by investing last season in a new, big cooler and packing house totaling 16,000 square feet. “This facility allows us to get the berries in and get them cooled and packed in a timely manner,” said Berger. “We anticipated that we’d need to have more coolers and room for the coming seasons. We pack pints, 18-ounce, and two-pounders all under our own Diamond label.”

Berger explained the company’s 800 acres of blueberries are coming along well. “Pollination is going well and we expect to see a decent crop this year, “ he said. “We always expect the best, but of course you never know what Mother Nature will throw at you and we’re still in the early stages. With all the other supply chain and input challenges, we’re hoping for a fairly normal season.”

At this point, Berger expects the crop to harvest on a normal time frame. “We’re looking somewhere around June 10th this year and the season should go until about August 15th,” he said. “Volume should be pretty normal, similar to what it was last year.”

Berger foresees a strong and steady market this season. “We’re lucky because consumers love New Jersey Blueberries,” he said. “We expect there to be good promotable volume for the summer. Most of the buyers anticipate New Jersey blueberries and start planning a good promotion for Fourth of July or a little after. Jersey berries sell. Consumers want them and we have a loyal following.”

 

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