Bumper crops don't yield higher profits

| Print |  Email
Archives - August 2009
Thursday, July 23, 2009
ATS_berries

Berry and cherry crops have benefited from this summer’s perfect weather, but those lovely temperatures also created shorter picking seasons. As farmers scramble to pick, process and sell their fruit, many of them aren’t seeing higher profits.

Cherry production is expected to reach 60,000 tons, says Dana Branson, administrator of the Oregon Sweet Cherry Commission. B.J. Thurlby, president of Washington-based Northwest Cherry Growers, expects the value of production to be at an all-time high, but some growers have locked into higher prices while others have lost out.

“Every year in the cherry business there are winners and losers,” says Thurlby. “This is definitely a gambler’s proposition.”

He’s heard of packing companies turning growers away because they’re already processing at capacity. Some growers have told Branson they’ve stopped picking because large corporations are offering prices so low, growers will not make a profit.

“It’s heartbreaking,” says Branson. “Everybody started out this season with such optimism.”

Blackberries, strawberries and raspberries also experienced shorter picking seasons this year and normal yields that are still better than those of last year when cold weather damaged some of the crops.

Stocks of frozen blackberries are low and demand is up, a situation that has the potential to benefit farmers. But according to Dave Dunn of Salem-based Willamette Valley Fruit Company, “With the condensed crop, the opportunity to negotiate for better prices might not materialize.”

He thinks the future of blackberries could become more marketable. “Black is not a very attractive color in a drink but there’s an attitude that blacks are going to be the next trend. It’s a little early to tell.”

Blueberry growers have certainly benefited from health-food trends. For the last five years, the industry has grown steadily in both demand and production. But this year marks a plateau in the industry as supply exceeds demand for the first time. Growers are seeing lower prices across the board. Doug Krahmer of St. Paul-based Berries Northwest has seen fresh blueberry prices drop 25% this year and was losing money in July.

Bryan Ostlund, administrator of the Oregon Blueberry Commission, hopes companies will start creating more blueberry-based products with the assurance of a steady supply of fruit. “We’re always feeling like we’re in uncharted waters recently,” he says.
Growers might feel uncertain about the future or frustrated with the unexpected downside of a bumper crop, but this summer someone is definitely benefiting: the consumer.

JENNY FURNISS
 

More Articles

The Road to Reinvention

April 2015
Friday, March 27, 2015
BY AMY MILSHTEIN

Damian Smith bets on changing himself — and Portland — through consulting.


Read more...

Game On

March 2015
Wednesday, February 25, 2015
BY LINDA BAKER | OB EDITOR

The big news at Oregon Business is we’re getting a ping pong table. After reading the descriptions of the 2015 100 Best Companies to Work For in Oregon, a disproportionate number of which feature table tennis in the office, I decided it was time to bring our own workplace into the 21st century. It was a tough call, but it’s lonely at the top, and someone has to make the hard decisions.


Read more...

Hot Topics/Cool Talks recap

Linda Baker
Friday, April 24, 2015
htctthumbBY LINDA BAKER

A recap of "Tech in Transit: Will Portland Build the Next Uber?"


Read more...

Beyond Bodegas

April 2015
Friday, March 27, 2015
BY JACOB PALMER

Five years in the making, the Portland Mercado — the city’s first Latino public market — will celebrate its grand opening April 11. A $3.5 million public-private partnership spearheaded by Hacienda CDC, the market will house 15 to 20 businesses in the food, retail and service sectors. It has some big-name funders, including the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation and JPMorgan Chase. The project goals are equally ambitious: to improve cross-cultural understanding, alleviate poverty and spur community economic development. 


Read more...

Car Talk

April 2015
Thursday, March 26, 2015
BY LINDA BAKER

Everyone knows cell phones and driving are a lethal combination. The risk is especially high for teenage drivers, whose delusions of immortality pose such a threat to us all. Enforcement alas, remains feeble; more promising are pedagogical approaches aimed at getting people to focus on the road, not their devices.


Read more...

European Vacation

Guest Blog
Thursday, April 23, 2015
norristhumbBY JASON NORRIS | GUEST BLOGGER

There are winners and losers with a strengthening U.S. dollar.


Read more...

Downtime with the executive director of Greater Portland Inc.

April 2015
Thursday, March 26, 2015

Janet LaBar, Executive director, Greater Portland Inc.


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS