The stellar growth of FD Berries in Mexico is continuing with expansion plans to reach just over 750 acres (303 hectares) by March, while they are preparing the ground in Sebring, Florida, in the US, for 100 acres (40 hectares) of blueberries. Sam Ahilan, CEO of FD Berries, says their intention was always to be American/Mexican growers. They also focus on trialing a number of berry varieties with commercial partners and universities, including Long-cane Blackberries.
Sam Ahilan (middle) and his team in Mexico.
"Our intention has always been to be an American/Mexican grower. Last year FD Berries USA LLC was created and bought 200 acres of orange groves in Sebring, Florida, late in October 2022. We will plant 100 acres (40 hectares) of blueberries in 2023. We are excited to see to the growth and harvest methods for blueberries in North America. We plan to harvest 4 to 5 million lbs of all berries from our farms. Our blueberry harvest is expected to reach 2.8 to 3 million lbs this year," says Ahilan.
FD Berries' stellar growth is supported by Ahilan's’ ownership of the US-based FibreDust company with factories in India, Sri Lanka, and Mexico, in which they grow berries in the premium substrates from FibreDust- True Blue blend and their Mexican facility Costa Sur. "The key to success is a strong partnership and the willingness to experiment with a wide variety of berries with every expansion. This includes blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries," states Ahilan.
"FD Berries began operation in May 2018 with a 100-acre (40 hectares) project. Since then, we have embarked on multiple expansions with a new phase of production every quarter but often quicker! Current expansion plans will have FD Berries at over 750 acres (303 hectares) of berries by the end of March 2023. Many varieties of blueberries are grown at FD Berries. These include Biloxi, Ventura, Victoria, Bianca, Sekoya Pop, and Beauty, as well as Atlas.
In addition to blueberries, FD Berries are growing many varieties of raspberries, including Adelita, Enrosadira, Bella, Malu, Sarafina, Primalba, and Rafiki. FD Berries is also growing blackberries focusing on the Cado, Ouchita, Von, and Sultana varieties, as well as the University of Arkansas blackberries. These varieties are being tested for commercial production. Our strategy is to focus on major marketing companies such as Northbay Produce, Alpine fresh, Berry World, as well as our own brand FD Berries," explains Ahilan.
He says Jalisco will dominate on the quality of fresh berries in the North American market for the next 12 to 16 weeks. "We will ship more than 3.5 million lbs of berries to North America and will ship smaller volumes to Europe, Japan, and Singapore. We are expecting strong demand for our berries during the Feb-April time frame for all berries with limited competition. For the 2022-2023 growing season, we will have close to 60% blueberries, 25% raspberries, and 15% blackberries," states Ahilan.
While FD Berries continues their expansion in the US, their investment in new varieties remains the top priority along with serving the customers. "We are one of the few investing in Long-cane Blackberries in partnership with Northbay Produce and the University of Arkansas. We are heavily investing in testing many raspberry varieties, especially through European breeders. We will be experimenting with Sekoya Pop and Beauty in Sebring along with the many other University of Florida varieties," concludes Ahilan.
Visit FD Berries at Fruit Logistica Berlin, Hall 22 A-20.