News and Stories

UPDATE: 2016 Strawberry Outlook

April 26, 2016


The trend of declining strawberry acreage, yields, and industry supplies, which began in late 2014, will continue to apply pressure on the strawberry category through the remainder of the 2016 calendar year. Major contributors to this trend are varietal transitions, warmer weather patterns during key times of the year, and increased costs of California’s strawberry production that are decreasing grower returns.  Below is a snapshot of the major strawberry growing regions, and their influences to the overall marketplace.


November-May Production: Ventura County, California

  • Acreage planted in the fall for winter, spring, and summer harvests has declined 13.8%
  • Warmer weather over the past several years, has pushed berry production north to Santa Maria and Salinas earlier than in previous years and eroded Ventura and Orange County grower returns, forcing suppliers to plant other, more profitable crops
  • Input costs per acre have increased, while returns are lower at the seasons’ end
  • Frozen berry companies have yielded better pricing than in years past due to increased demand
    • A strong frozen strawberry market creates a profitable outlet for growers who may have marginal quality fruit
    • This prevents more cases from reaching the fresh market
  • Other winter growing regions such as Mexico have increased production, decreasing demand for the Ventura County fruit
  • Growers define success at the end of a growing season by measuring the number of cases per acre, per season
  • The early end of the Ventura County berry season over the past few years has essentially shortened the season, yielding lower returns to growers and causing them to scale back plantings

November-February: Mexico

  • Mexican acreage has decreased by 16.4% in the 2014/2015 seasons versus the 2015/2016 seasons
  • Mexico remains a major contributor to the overall national berry supply during the winter months
  • Quality, improvements in farming practices, and an increased food safety focus has made Mexican-grown berries a viable alternative to California fruit

November-March: Florida

  • Acreage is nearly the same as last year (down only 0.3%)
  • Quality and varieties typically do not meet the same higher quality of California- and Mexican-grown fruit available at the same time of year
  • Expect similar acreage and quality for the winter 2016/2017 seasons

March-November: Santa Maria

  • Acreage planted in the fall for winter, spring, and summer harvests declined 14.6%; fall harvesting fell by 19.6%
  • Although Santa Maria acreage is down, it remains a vital area, especially during the spring and fall seasons
  • If Mother Nature brings warm summer weather as it has for the last two years, late-summer quality will be significantly affected in this region

April-October: Salinas/Watsonville

  • Acreage planted in the fall for winter, spring, and summer harvests is down 6.9% in 2016
  • Although Salinas/Watsonville is posting a lower decline in 2016, acreage in this area has decreased almost 12% since 2013
  • Labor availability is limited and cost pressures are highest in the Salinas/Watsonville region
  • Varietal transitions from Albion to two emerging varieties (San Andreas and Monterey strawberries) have created problems with quality and yields, as growers work through the intricacies of producing these varieties
    • The Albion variety was the predominant berry for many years in the Salinas/Watsonville area, however natural transition of varietals is to phase out over time
    • Growers planted 11,500 acres of the Albion variety in 2012 versus only 1,138 acres in 2016


  • Although acreage planted in California for winter, spring, and summer production is down 12.2%, California will continue to lead strawberry production in 2016
  • Over 79% of strawberries consumed in the U.S, annually, are grown in California

Please contact your Markon customer service representative for more information.


©2016 Markon Cooperative, Inc. All rights reserved.