What we learned at the 2021 NARBA Conference.
From February 22nd to 25th, CO2 GRO was a virtual exhibitor at the annual North American Raspberry and Blackberry Conference (NARBA). This was our first year at NARBA and it was a resounding success for us. Here’s what we learned:
The global berry markets (including raspberries, blackberries, blueberries and strawberries) are growing rapidly, with some forecasts of up to 6% CAGR due mainly to consumers’ recognition of high antioxidant berry properties.
The soft berry market in North America is essentially divided into two categories: berries grown for whole fruit consumption and berries machine-picked for blending with other foods and flavoring.
Most of the berries grown in the US are grown for blending while berries grown in Mexico are typically grown for whole fruit consumption.
Canada is not a large berry producer. However, as this previous article describes, greenhouses in Canada are beginning to grow more berries for whole fruit consumption, marketed as “greenhouse grown”.
Most berries are grown in covered structures such as tunnels, shade houses or greenhouses.
Why are berries grown in the United States used more for blending while berries grown in Mexico and Canada used mostly for whole fruit consumption?
The reason berries grown in the US are used more for blending is high labor costs. As a soft, delicate fruit, berries have to be picked by hand in order to stay intact. There are no machines that can delicately pick berries (especially raspberries, blackberries and blueberries) without damaging their outer skin. Since labor costs in Mexico are lower, hand picking berries for whole fruit consumption is more economical. US berries are used more for food and jam blending as the machine-picked but damaged fruit can be mashed and frozen. Canadian greenhouses are expanding their strawberry capacity. They are being marketed as a niche “Greenhouse Grown” product.
High tunnel raspberry grow with open ends. CO2 gassing is not possible.
How can berry growers increase production and profits in all three countries?
All the berry growers we communicated with at NARBA recognize that CO2 enhancement can help increase their fruit production. Berry growers with open tunnels, shade houses and greenhouses, understand that gassing CO2 into the grow area atmosphere is not feasible as the CO2 gas escapes from the open ends of the grow structures.
Are there any other options other than CO2 gassing?
CO2 GRO’s game changing technology – CO2 Delivery Solutions™ – provides all these growers the opportunity to deliver additional CO2 to their plants regardless if they are open-side, open-venting structures such as tunnels, shade house or greenhouses. The technology saturates CO2 into water to create a solution rich in CO2. The solution is then misted directly on to the plant leaves for a few seconds two to three times per hour. The mist forms a thin microfilm on the leaves which isolates the leaf surface from the atmosphere creating a diffusion gradient that favors the transport of the CO2 from the solution into the leaf through the entire leaf surface. Since the CO2 is delivered into the plant via the microfilm on the leaf surface and not via the stomata through the air, additional CO2 can be provided to the plant regardless of the open-venting design of tunnels, shade houses and greenhouses. The plant uses the additional CO2 for increasing photosynthesis and in turn fruit production by up to 30% for a very low cost, resulting in the majority of that increased production going to the profit margin.
Increased yield for low cost means lower overall costs per unit of berry produced. This offers growers in the US and Canada the opportunity to use more labor to hand pick berries for the higher value whole fruit consumption market, while increasing profits for all growers in both the US, Canada and Mexico who now have more product to sell with greater margins.
For more information on how CO2 Delivery Solutions™ can help revolutionize the global berry production market, visit co2delivery.ca