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Blueberry interest up for Gourmet Trading

As blueberry category manager for Gourmet Trading Co., Luciano Fiszman works side-by-side with growers and the sales team in order to move the crop in each region and grow the programs with customers, season after season.

“We focus on grower and customer service, we care about quality, food safety, logistics and delivering what we promise,” he said. “Success comes from time. Time for your team. Time for your growers. Time for your customers. Time to plan. Time to revise things and change them when necessary. Time to execute.”

Gourmet Trading Co., based in Redondo Beach, CA, subscribes to all of these. That’s evident in the quality, flavor and texture of the berries it produces.

02 13 2018 Gourmet Trading DSC3157.1Luciano Fiszman“More and more customers are appreciating this,” Fiszman said. “It starts with genetics, the location, the way to grow the crop and finally how to pick and pack the fruit. The product that results of this mixture has to satisfy the ultimate consumer.”

For blueberries, Fiszman said South America had a strong season with a great outcome and North America has experienced a great start. He expects to see a good spring and summer season.

“We expected to see more fruit from Florida and Georgia by now, but the cooler spring along with other factors have limited the season so far,” he said. “Mexico had a bigger play this season, which will only continue to grow. It is very interesting to see each new region evolve in growing techniques, one after the other. While the wheel has been invented, each new grower takes the experience from its antecessor and makes new improvements.”

He added that the pack styles are the same the industry has known for years, but there are conversations about innovation in the years to come and he said things could be interesting in the years ahead.

On a retail level, Fiszman shared that promotions work very well in the category and it is important to pick the right time, pack style and price point at each time of the year and to align marketers and growers to get the most benefit.

“When retailers plan promotions based on historicals and their calendar; this is not always beneficial or achievable because the weather is playing its tricks,” he said. “There are obviously trends across the years, but retailers should work closer to marketers and growers to find the peak weeks on each region in order to do better for all.”

Outside of berries, Scott Hulsey, the company’s vice president of sales and procurement, noted Gourmet Trading Co. has recently started its Pasco, WA asparagus operation and volumes are increasing. This region will continue all the way through mid-June.

“Gourmet Trading represents 40 percent of the Washington crop,” he said. “We have 450 acres in production, plus we also count with our grower partners, making us the biggest grower/shipper in Washington.”

It also has one of the largest asparagus packinghouses in North America, a state-of-the-art packing facility, complete with automatic grading machines and fully food-safety certified.

For the rest of 2018, the company is aggressively growing in both of its two core products — asparagus and blueberries.

“We are planting asparagus in Peru, Ecuador and Mexico,” Hulsey said, “along with blueberries in Peru and potentially Mexico in the near future.”