Climate change pushes berry production boundaries

Leading US berry companies Driscoll’s and Naturipe Farms have commenced commercial production trials in Canada as part of efforts to diversify their growing regions.

According to a report from Reuters, the two companies are growing in Ontario and Quebec to see if the provinces offer an effective alternative to California, which has been impacted by drought and water shortages.

Soren Bjorn, president of Driscoll’s of the Americas, said even though the colder climate would normally limit production, local demand and challenges in traditional growing regions are forcing the company to assess alternatives.

“We have probably gone to most of the obvious places in the world. Now we are moving into more challenging territories,” said Bjorn.

“We are going through all our critical regions trying to figure out what’s likely to happen 25 or 50 years from now and what are the implications of that.”

Brian Bocock, vice president of sales and product management at Naturipe Farms – which is testing blueberry and raspberry production in Quebec and Ontario – said increasing logistics costs are another reason to grow closer to the end consumer.

The trials are still in their early stages but Himanshu Gupta, chief executive of Climate AI, which works with Driscoll’s and models the effect of extreme businesses, said there is an advantage to moving first.

“Climate change is disrupting agriculture and impacting their top lines and bottom lines,” said Gupta.

“Adaptation is going to drive winners. The ones who can adapt faster are the ones who are going to end up winning the market.”


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