New varieties help US strawberry industry grow

Rabobank's senior economist, Vernon Crowder, recently visited Australia, where he discussed US food trends with The Weekly Times. According to Mr Crowder, who is based in Fresno, California, the strawberry craze in the US has turned the fruit into somewhat of a commodity.

Mr Crowder said the strawberry industry had been growing for a long time and benefited from the perception of health.

He said strawberry companies in California have done a great job of developing new varieties.

“These new varieties have seen the season expand but are also much larger and tast­ier,” Mr Crowder said.

“The strawberry craze has become so successful they’re becoming somewhat of a commodity.

“One large company is now focusing on developing more boysenberry varieties and another company is doing blueberries so consumers are getting a lot of choice in berries.”

The table grape industry is also expanding its varieties

“Another area is table grapes, they are easy to eat, a quick snack and we’ve act­ually seen exports more than double in the past 15-20 years,” Mr Crowder said.

“New varieties of table grapes are also being developed which not only taste better but don’t require as much thinning and there is less labour involved so they reduce production costs as well.

“We even have a variety called Cotton Candy and the kids love it and it goes for a premium price at high-end stores, almost triple normal prices, and they never have too much.”

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