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Bumper harvest prompts drop in strawberry prices

(April 6, 2010)—Strawberry prices are oh-so sweet! Prices have dived in recent days as berries flood the market.

A pound of strawberries that sold for $3 to $4 in Chicago stores last week costs about $2, said Peter Testa, president of Testa Produce Inc., a Chicago-based supplier.

Lousy weather delayed the harvest of a healthy crop in Florida -- the nation's biggest producer in January and February -- to coincide with that of California, which produces the largest in the spring and which this year yielded a bumper crop.

A record number of strawberries for this time of the year was picked in the U.S. last week -- 80 million pounds, said Gloria Chillon, director of marketing for Driscoll's, a major berry producer and distributor.

Testa is selling the fruit to food-service operations for about 93 cents per pound. It would have sold for $2.75-$3 a week ago, he said.

Prices are expected to be down for two weeks.

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