Eastern Canada's Market Update
August 3, 2018 – Higher–than–average daytime and nighttime temperatures in the Salinas Valley have caused industry–wide heat–related defects in commodity and value–added items. Romaine products have been hardest hit; warmer temperatures are causing internal burn, insect pressure, and seeder. Temperatures are expected to return to seasonal averages over the next several days, which will help improve quality.
MARKET UPDATE FOR April 6th, 2020
MARKETS TO WATCH: AT A GLANCE
Avocados: Market remains active. Although food service has come to a halt, retail is keeping this market alive and active.
Imported Carrots: Peeled baby carrot packs are improving in production volume as growers catch up with demand.
Blueberries: Supplies are steady and markets are firm this week, but we expect better production and sharper prices as we move through April.
Blackberries: Supplies remain limited but steady. Markets are firm this week.
Raspberries: Good supplies with promotional opportunities available.
Strawberries: Oxnard is the main production region currently. Supplies are consistent. Demand is still very strong. Markets are slightly lower.
Limes: Limes are at the end of the Mexican season and rain in the growing regions is limiting harvest and overall supplies for another week.
Green Grapes: Storage fruit is limited and markets are climbing. This will be the case until we transition into Mexico. Quality is good with darker color.
Red Grapes: Steady supplies and markets. We are into storage fruit, so we will watch quality closely.
California Oranges: Due to high demand at retail, plus weather and labor shortages, navel oranges will be tight until things settle. Small size Navels (113/138’s) continue to be limited. Larger sizes are mor plentiful.
Potatoes: Retail demand driving markets on consumer bags and smaller size potatoes Some lots may exhibit peepers and light mold.
Onions: Markets lower with exception of medium sizes; retail demand active. Northwest storage supply is winding down for the season.
Stone Fruit: Import season is done with very little fruit remaining. Nectarines are done, peaches will finish in a week or so and plums will phase out by the end of the month.
GARLIC: China- Peeled garlic supplies are starting to rebound. Peeled garlic production is slowly starting again in China. Now with COVID-19 shuttering the foodservice business in North America, demand has been turned to a trickle. We can expect to see this market to continue to ease, until demand resumes. Mexico/Spain/Argentina: Demand has increased for other imported garlic (Mexico, Spain, and Argentina); overall import supplies are extremely tight. California- California’s 2019 storage crop yield is below normal levels; stocks are adequate to cover normal demand but not significant increases.
ICEBERG- Foodservice activity is almost non-existent and retail business has fallen off immensely. This market is steady to lower and some suppliers are offering “priced after shipping” pricing in order to move overages in inventories. Supplies clearly exceed demand. The weather in Yuma will be in the low to mid-eighties all week and in southern California expect mid-seventies with no rain in the forecast. Huron and Salinas are expected to be dry for the week as well. The overall quality is fair. The biggest issue has been mildew on the outer heads of lettuce. Shippers are trying to clean up as much as possible. Discoloration and misshapen heads have also been reported as well. Salinas will have light production by the middle of this week.
ROMAINE / LEAF- Supplies of romaine and leaf lettuces remain abundant to start this week while demand for these leafy greens remains lower than average due to the effects of the current pandemic. This market is steady overall. Some shippers have been pricing multiple loads on romaine and leaf “priced after shipping” due to the large excess amounts of product available industry-wide. The transition from the southern region in Yuma and the Imperial Valley up to the northern region in Santa Maria and Salinas is currently in full swing with most growers finishing up in the desert within the next two weeks or less. No rain is in the forecast for the week. Yuma will be in the low to mid-eighties this week. Salinas has begun production. Some common defects being reported to include mildew, mechanical, blister, and mildew. These defects are being reported on romaine as well as all leaf items. The weights are being reported between 28-34 pounds on romaine while the green and red leaf has been 17-22 pounds.
WEST COAST: SPRING MIX/BABY SPINACH/BABY KALE- The baby leaf supply continues to stay steady during this transition period. With the previous rain, we anticipate supplies, quality, and growth to continue to improve. Quality lately has been good with occasional yellowing and bruising of the tender leaves.
EAST COAST: ARUGULA / WATERCRESS / BABY RED KALE– Arugula: Arugula supplies have returned to normal with fair to good quality. Again, demand has essentially been eliminated with the closing of schools and restaurants. Supplies will exceed demand for the foreseeable future. Baby Red Kale: Production of baby red kale continues and supplies far exceed demand.
BROCCOLI- The significant decline in all perishable sales and evaporation of foodservice sales have hit the broccoli markets hard. Prices have dropped sharply with plenty of supply available in both California and Mexico. Quality continues to have slight purpling caused by the recent cold weather, some mechanical damage, and occasional yellow cast.
ASPARAGUS– Volume continues to come on heavy as we head into the Easter pull and, given the current circumstances, the market has not gone up as expected. Demand has slowed down at the retail level nationwide, and the movement in the stores and foodservice has come to a halt. While Easter is one of the largest promotable holidays of the year for asparagus, the demand and movement will be significantly lower than in years past.
CAULIFLOWER– The cauliflower market has recently come off with product coming on in the Salinas Valley. Yields have picked up with most shippers given the improvement in weather the last couple weeks and with demand falling off. The quality is good with slight bruising and yellow cast with weights in the 25 to 28-pound level. Look for the market to continue to adjust going into next week as we make our way through transition.
BEANS– The bean growing regions continue with favorable weather conditions. Prices have stabilized as production has stabilized in Mexico and Florida and demand is minimal. Quality is very good on both green and yellow. Snipped: Snipped bean supplies are steady, but pricing is still slightly elevated. Overall, quality is good.
CELERY- The celery market has softened as demand for retail business has fallen off. Supplies are ample to fill all orders currently. Mexico has light production. Santa Maria and Oxnard are the two main growing regions for celery. With demand off on the foodservice sector, orders are being filled in full. Heavy rains causing extremely muddy conditions this past week had slowed production in southern California but with no rain expected this week. Expect good supplies through-out the week. The quality continues to be above average with most shippers. The weights per carton are averaging 57-60 pounds.
GREEN ONIONS– The green onion market continues to stay steady with good supplies brought on by the warmer weather growers have had in Mexico. Quality is good with occasional leaf minor caused by the recent cold and wet weather. The market will stay steady going into next week.
EGGPLANT- East: Eggplant supplies continue to be very light in Florida, with overall acreage planted being down again this winter. New fields have started harvesting, and more volume is expected in the next ten days. Quality has improved from previous weeks as we move past the heavy winds Florida experienced two weeks ago. Markets are expected to remain on the reasonably affordable side for now. West: Eggplant supplies continue steadily this week. Eggplant crossing through Nogales, Arizona continues to be harvested in Sinaloa, Mexico. Supplies from Sinaloa continue to be packed in all pack styles and in all sizes. Quality on eggplant crossing through Nogales varies from fair to good as the eggplant crop is reaching the end. The eggplant market has decreased this week due to lighter demand.
FIELD CUCUMBERS– Florida’s harvesting is in full swing as most shippers have started. Nogales is seeing better production from their new fields. Overall, a softer demand has led to better availability. Short term, we should see steady volume for the next two weeks. East: Cucumbers have really ramped up in the last few days throughout Florida. Markets have dropped significantly since last week with retail demand coming to a sudden halt and foodservice business still being hit extremely hard. Honduras imports are pretty much at the very end at this point. Quality has improved tremendously on Florida cucumber due to ideal growing conditions for a good stretch of time. Most of the wind scarring and curvature issues growers were dealing with last week have faded away. Look for markets to remain on the lower end until demand picks back up. West: Good supplies of cucumber are crossing through Nogales, Arizona from Sonora, Mexico this week. All pack styles and sizes are being packed and are available this week. The cucumber market has decreased this week due to better supplies and light demand. With good weather in the Sonora growing district, the cucumber supplies are expected to increase in the upcoming weeks. Quality on cucumbers from this growing district is good.
BRUSSELS SPROUTS- The brussels sprouts market has started coming off as more supply has hit the pipeline. Currently, quality is good with occasional internal decay. Look for this market to continue to adjust lower going into next week.
CORN- Excellent weekend harvests have led to good availability on corn this week in Florida. Quality is excellent.
IMPORTED CABBAGE- Cabbage is available in Florida, with volume available in Georgia starting in 2 to 3 weeks.
KALE- The kale market continues to stay steady. Quality continues to improve with full bunches and some yellow leaves being reported. We’re hoping this week’s warmer weather after the rains continue to help the quality, supplies, and spur growth.
IMPORTED CARROTS- Raw carrot supplies remain steady, but growers have had a difficult time keeping up with the processed carrot packs, such as peeled baby carrots. This is not an issue of low supply, but rather production capacities. With the wave of increased processed carrot demand, shippers simply do not have the manpower or hours to produce enough finished goods to satisfy the needs. Last week was a bit of a surprise to the industry. However, this week, vendors have made appropriate changes to production schedules and machinery to increase production numbers. Although demand still surpasses production, we are seeing improved supplies of processed goods. This will continue to improve as we move forward and shippers adjust to the new demand curve.
CILANTRO- The cilantro market continues to level off as there have been plenty of supplies. The cilantro quality is good with an occasional yellow leaf. Look for the cilantro market to remain steady, depending on demand.
ZUCCHINI– Zucchini is thriving with the high temperatures in Florida. At this point, we expect volume to remain plentiful, as both Florida and Nogales are seeing better volume. East Coast: Zucchini is available in various loading points in Florida for extremely cheap prices. New growing regions are yielding very well, and quality is excellent for both green and yellow zucchini. Markets will continue to be on the low side until demand picks back up, which could happen with Easter pulls. If markets do remain very cheap with no demand, growers could begin skipping over fields to save on the cost of labor and materials. West Coast: Good supplies of both green and yellow zucchini are being harvested this week and are available to load in Nogales, Arizona being harvested in the Mexican state of Sonora. The market has decreased within the past week due to light demand on both retail and foodservice orders. All pack styles are currently being packed from this district. The quality of both is currently good. Good weather in the growing region will increase production on all zucchini.
EAST COAST PEPPERS- Availability has shifted from extremely limited on all sizes of green bell pepper, to plentiful across the board on all sizing. Weaker demand has led to a change in market. Florida continues to produce steady volume and we expect such conditions to remain intact for the next two weeks. This major swing is mainly due to many new fields starting to produce in new growing regions around Florida, and a large drop in demand for retail chains. Coronavirus continues to flex its’ relentless strength and severity, causing unbearable strain across the agricultural industry. Weather couldn’t have been more ideal for growing over the last week in Florida, which is now evident with increased yields. Look for markets to remain on the lower side now that demand has nearly completely disappeared.
WEST COAST PEPPERS– Serrano: Moderate supplies of Serrano peppers continue to be available to load in Nogales, Mexico. Serrano supplies are expected to remain steady throughout the week. Jalapenos: Good supplies of Jalapeno are crossing through Nogales, Arizona. Good supplies are expected to continue throughout the week. New crop Jalapeno quality from Mexico is good. The Jalapeno market is lower this week. Green Pepper: Good supplies of green pepper continue to cross through Nogales, Arizona. Both retail and foodservice grade are available as are all sizes. Green peppers are currently being harvested in the Mexican states of Sonora and Sinaloa. The green pepper crop from Sinaloa is expected to finish within the week. With very light demand expected this week, the market will stay has depressed. Quality and shelf life currently range depending on the harvesting district. Supplies are expected to easily meet demand as one Mexican district ends and a new district starts. Red Pepper: Good supplies of red pepper will continue crossing through Nogales to start the week. Both field and hothouse varieties continue to be harvested. With lighter demand on both retail and foodservice orders, the red bell pepper market has decreased this week. Supplies are expected to remain steady this week. Quality on Mexican red pepper ranges from fair to good.
TABLE POTATOES– The March 1st holdings report showed Canada had about 7.2% more table potatoes left in storage on March 1 than it held a year ago, it still is 4% short of the March 1, 2018 inventory. The situation varies widely between provinces. Usage rates need to pick up, relative to the February pace, in New Brunswick and Manitoba. On the other hand, supplies could run short in Quebec, Ontario, Alberta, and British Columbia. PEI shippers appear to metering their supplies to clean up on schedule. The US table potato market may complicate the Canadian market. Strong prices for storage table potatoes create a magnet for Canadian exports. In addition, Florida’s crop problems are limiting imports of early table potatoes. That could dry up supplies even earlier than the February usage pace suggests. Ontario: Growers had 6% more potatoes left in storage on March 1 than they held a year earlier. February disappearance fell a little short of 2018 movement. Ontario was the only province to register a reduction in disappearance during February. The downturn was focused in the table potato sector. Table potato disappearance fell short of the 2019 pace. That leaves Ontario with 3% more table potatoes in storage on March 1 from the year-earlier inventory. Even at the slower usage rate, the province’s table potato stocks would be depleted by May 30. Ontario’s chip potato disappearance increased by 8%. The province’s March 1 chip potato stocks were almost identical to 2018, but slightly more than it held on March 1, 2019. At the February usage rate, Ontario’s storage chip potatoes would be cleaned up by July 12. Chip potato usage has picked up during the last two months, following an extremely slow start. Quebec: February disappearance surged 30.6% ahead of the 2019 pace. That left Quebec with about 7.9% more potatoes in storage on March 1; more than it held a year earlier. Intended use data show that most of the extra potatoes are in the processing use categories. They include fry-quality potatoes that exceeds the March 2019 inventory by nearly 10%. However, at the February usage rate, those potatoes would be depleted by August 8. The province also had about 10% more than year earlier holdings of chip potatoes in storage on March 1. February chip potato disappearance increased by 40.5%. At that pace, Quebec’s chip potato stocks would be cleaned up by July 15. The province’s March 1 table potato stocks exceeded the year-earlier inventory by 2%. At the beginning of February there was an 8% difference. At the February usage rate, Quebec’s table potato stocks would be cleaned up by June 16. Imports: Retail demand continues to drive prices higher in all regions. Washington is finishing up for the season with minimal supplies and rising markets. This includes Mt Vernon, Washington product that supplied Bakersfield, California shippers to help fill mixer orders. California’s local supplies are expected to start mid-to-late April with volume by May. North Dakota continues to produce light supplies of red and yellow. The main sources for new potato supplies are Idaho and Southern Florida. Expect Idaho to finish up mid-April which will also be the same time frame we transition from Southern Florida to Northern Florida. Markets will remain active with light supplies over the next 3-4 weeks.
ONIONS– Overall markets are on a downward trend as supplies remain plentiful in the Pacific Northwest regions of Washington, Oregon, and Idaho. Retail demand remains active keeping medium sizes in lighter supplies and higher markets. All other sizes are showing lower markets as the Pacific Northwest looks to finish up the season prior to California desert and Texas supplies starting in the next 3-4 weeks. Expect to see low markets over the next several weeks with the exception of medium sizes as long as retail demand remains active and almost no foodservice demand.
CARTON BAKING POTATO: Canada had 5.4% more potatoes in storage on March 1 than the year’s prior, March 1, 2019 inventory. While stocks are up from last year, they are at the second-lowest level for this time of the year since 2015. Current holdings exceed year-earlier levels in all provinces except British Columbia and Alberta. However, 85.0% of the increase is confined to two provinces, PEI and Quebec. The biggest gain is in potatoes intended for table potato sales, which are up 16.1% from last year. PEI: On March 1st the island had 14.6% more potatoes in storage on March 1, 2020 than year-earlier holdings. This year’s stocks are slightly above the March 1, 2018 inventory. February disappearance exceeded the 2019 pace by 8.2%. Intended use data show that this year’s stocks increase is skewed toward table potato supplies. The table potato inventory increased by 17%. February table potato disappearance was up 16.3% from 2019 movement. At that pace, the Island’s remaining table potatoes would be cleaned up by July 6. PEI’s processing potato stocks declined by 9.8% more than during February. March 1 processing stocks were up by 5% over a year ago, but it’s 1% less than the March 1, 2018 inventory. At the February usage rate the remaining processing inventory would be depleted by September 7. It appears that processors are aiming to stretch out this year’s remaining stocks until the 2020 harvest gets under way. The Island also reported it had the largest March 1 seed potato inventory since 2012. USA: Consumer retail packs along with carton 90 count and smaller remain in high demand with the current retail surge across North America amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Retail demand has slowed but remains active with consumer bags extremely scarce. Larger size 40 count through 80 count markets have shown decreases in pricing over the last couple of weeks due to almost no foodservice demand. As we head start this week and next, we will see a continued downward market trend on larger size cartons with active retail bag pricing. Washington, Colorado, and Wisconsin will follow Idaho markets with a push to move carton product due to the lack of foodservice demand. Lots will continue to show occasional peepers, soft rot, shoulder/internal bruising.
SEEDLESS WATERMELON- Supplies are good on both the east and west coasts. Watermelons crossing through Nogales, Arizona are being harvested in Nayarit, Mexico and Sonora, Mexico. Supplies are steady from both districts. Quality from these growing districts vary from fair to good. Florida has also started, and supplies will pick up around April 20th when Arcadia, Florida ramps up production. Texas has good supplies on 36 count and 60 count from Tampico, Mexico. The watermelon market is currently steady. April and May would be a good time to promote watermelons.
PAPAYA- With recent events, there has been large decreases in papaya demand spread throughout North America. Several shippers have resorted to selling papaya at cost in order to move existing inventories. This has caused a two-tier market–the fruit with age or already at full color that needs to be moved quickly and fresh #1 fruit with a longer shelf life. Supply continues to increase out of Tecoman, Colima, Mexico but growers have decreased harvesting in order to avoid saturating the market when it is this weak. Overall quality is good and currently we are not seeing any major quality concerns at time of harvest.
GOLD PINEAPPLES– A high pressure in the Caribbean is generating windy conditions for most of Costa Rica. Light rain showers of short duration are expected in the growing areas, but the dominant condition will continue to be dry weather with high UV radiation and high temperatures. Quality-wise, we will continue as in past weeks with some UV radiation damage, both internal and external, due to the high sunlight levels. Brix levels are starting to recover this week. The USDA crossing report is showing inbounds from Costa Rica for last week at only 250 containers for North America. Once again, this is a very low number, likely pending a revision. The USDA is also reporting light demand and a steady market. Growers continue to get better volume and good quality fruit. The Easter pull is mostly over with growers now showing surplus fruit of all sizes. Most growers are monitoring how the surge in demand due to the coronavirus behaves for the next few weeks. At least for the last few days, a dramatic fall in demand is slowing down the pineapple needs throughout all markets.
MANGO- Overall demand has decreased as fallout from COVID-19 unfolds; for the time being, most packhouses in Oaxaca and Michoacán, Mexico are closed due to declining markets. We expect demand to increase in the next week or so after current inventories start depleting, but grower are taking things day to day and closely monitoring the situation. Haden and Tommy mangos are still available in Texas and on the West Coast.
BLUEBERRIES– Blueberry supplies are increasing as new regions are ramping up, but market prices have remained firm this week. The import season is winding down with limited availability of Chilean and Peruvian fruit left in the market. Blueberry production in Mexico continues to ramp up. Quality from there is very good. California is starting in Oxnard, picking lightly; quality is very good. California has been slow to start due to cooler weather, but with the warmer temperatures expected, we may see some incremental increases in harvest. Florida is picking with very good quality. The weather has been ideal in Florida and we expect to see increased production for the next 4 weeks. Although the drastic increases have yet to fully impact the supply flow, we do expect things to improve consistently as we move forward. Expectations are the blueberry market will continue to decline over the coming 4 weeks. Demand for blueberries continues to decline due to overall demand decline from COVID-19 and we should expect very reasonable pricing as volume increases.
STRAWBERRIES- There are several growing regions in play at the moment. Some are finishing and others are just starting. Florida is now done with production. Mexico is phasing out with little fruit remaining out of McAllen. Quality on the last of the Mexican product is fair, but prices are a little sharper. Supplies in California are light; showers from last week delayed harvest for the Salinas/Watsonville areas. We can expect to see Salinas / Watsonville to get going this week and slowly build momentum. Better weather and warmer temperatures this week should help with promotable supplies in Santa Maria and Oxnard. Oxnard continues to have regular production and numbers are climbing. Santa Maris is gradually picking up pace, but still limited. Santa Maria, California, fruit has occasional bruising, white shoulders and tips, soft spots and scarring from wind and water damage. Average counts are 16 to 18, occasionally higher and lower. Oxnard, California, fruit has bruising, white shoulder, seedy tips, soft shoulders and misshapen, scarring from wind, and some pack bruises from larger berries. Average counts are 14 to 16, occasionally higher and lower. Retail demand is still very strong, so many shippers are holding market prices firm. However, with temperatures reaching in the low 70’s, we may see a wave of product come on. If so, we may see some more aggressive prices going into the weekend and into the front part of next week. We will monitor the supply and market conditions closely.
RASPBERRIES / BLACKBERRIES– Raspberries: Not much change on raspberry supplies this week. There are several areas in production. Mexico continues with good production, Baja, Mexico is increasing production and California fruit is ramping up. Quality is strong and demand is steady. Due to the increased production, we are seeing a decrease in market price with some aggressive deals being offered on volume. We expect supplies to remain strong through next week. Blackberries: Blackberry demand has exceeded supply for a month but is starting to see the demand fall due to COVID-19. Quality is good and we expect to see improvements in supply and better prices as we move forward.
STONE FRUIT- We are at the end of the import season. We will see availability, size options, and varieties sell out quickly. Nectarines have already become very limited. Most shippers are no longer quoting prices. Peaches are next, with limited availability being reported from all shippers. We expect peaches to finish up completely over the next week or so. Plums should last through the end of the month. We expect new California harvest to start by the end of April and ramp up midway through May.
ORANGES- California Oranges: What a ride the orange markets have seen. We went from excessive supply and low demand to a huge increase in demand overnight as the coronavirus scare has created panic buying a few weeks ago. Then last week, we had very little demand as people over-bought the prior week. Orange supplies this week are in much better shape than compared to last week. We may see another surge of business as suppliers anticipate most will only shop once per week and buy more each trip. Growers are ready to harvest daily to keep up with all needs. Retail sizes (large sizes) are seeing an increase in demand, while food service (small sizes) is seeing a decrease in demand as foodservice demand is almost nothing. Specialty citrus demand has significantly increased as well, with Clementine/Mandarins being a preference of choice Expect large sizes to become harder to find as small sizes become the go-to discounted size. We have also seen an increase in demand for bagged retail packs as consumers begin to fear fruit that can be touched by numerous people in grocery stores. Fruit quality remains great with consistent brix levels and traveling with minimal arrival issues. Cara Cara and blood oranges continue and supplies are steady with good quality.
LEMONS– California: Overall lemon supplies out of both districts in California are looking good with supplies as demand eases. Lemons out of the Central Valley of California continue to look really nice on supply and quality. Sizes of 165’s and larger markets are holding steady this week. Coastal Region growers have heavy supplies peaking on 115/140/95’s. Choice lemons are very abundant and have dropped significantly in price. The Yuma season has concluded and supplies are winding down out of the Mecca/Thermal area.
CLEMENTINES- California: Clementines and Mandarins are extremely tight in California right now. Supplies have tightened up significantly because of coronavirus. Will be keeping an eye on availability over the next few weeks. Celementines / Mandarins will be the go-to item for consumers seeking to boost their immune systems with Vitamin C. Prices spiked two weeks ago, but we are now seeing them stabilize. Offshore: The Nardorcott variety continues, but as with California product, retail demand remains strong.
GRAPEFRUIT- New crop California / Florida grapefruit continues. Texas grapefruit has just about come to an end. Texas grapefruit is peaking on 48/56 count and grade is favoring choice over fancy. Growers are telling us that large size grapefruit (32s and larger) will continue to be tight in this final week. There have been reports of quality issues as the Texas season comes to an end. We are starting to see more demand for California / Florida grapefruit than Texas grapefruit. California / Florida grapefruit is limited with a stronger market. Grapefruit has emerged as one of the more strongly demanded citrus items at retail.
LIMES- Volume last week packed in Mexico was much higher than normal. Growers in Mexico and some importers packed more in order to stay ahead of any potential border crossing issues that might arise due to the virus and the “Holy Week” break; for that reason, are expected to have steady supplies going into “Holy Week”. Starting today, harvest crews in Mexico will conclude working until next Monday. Suppliers are doing their best to load coolers with fresh fruit to avoid any shortages. Markets are soft and demand is very low. We are still in the old crop with heavy volume on 110/150 count. Overall quality is great, but there will be some shorter shelf life on the larger 110/150 count as they have stayed on trees much longer than the smaller fruit. There are some harvests of smaller 230/250 count from the new crop, but we haven’t seen large volumes from that crop just yet.
CANTALOUPE / HONEYDEW- On the melon front, retail demand has come to a complete halt for both east and west coasts. During these difficult times, there seems to be a handle full of items that are hot commodities and in high demand. That being said, demand is extremely light for offshore melons. Pricing continues to decrease and the market is expected to remain low for the month of April. We can expect aggressive pricing in the coming weeks. California season will ramp up late April, early May.
GRAPES– While overall grape movement was extremely strong during the second half of March, sales slowed considerably into last week as many retailers finally saw demand revert to near normal levels. While many importers are unsure how long this lull in demand will last, large inventories of red seedless varieties (Crimson/Sweet Celebration/Jack Salute) remain on both coasts, with all green varieties (Thompson/Sweet Globe/Timpson) still extremely limited. Black seedless varieties are also available in load volumes for the first time this season. Overall market pricing looks to remain steady on red seedless grapes into early April, with all green seedless options being limited through the month of April. Green: Green grape supplies are limited. Availability will continue to be a challenge through transition. We expect Mexico to get started in the next 2-3 weeks with limited production. What shippers are utilizing at this point is storage fruit from Peru and Chile. Retail demand is still very strong and suppliers are trying to hold onto the little fruit remaining to cover contracts and pre-commitments. As a result, market prices continue to climb and availability is spotty. Quality on the storage fruit is good with reports of darker color and occasional soft berries. We will watch the quality closely as we move forward. Red: Supplies of imported red grapes remain steady on both coasts. All fruit is still product of Chile or Peru. Most shippers are now working off of storage fruit, but we anticipate shippers will have plenty of inventory to carry through the transition period for the next 2-3 weeks. Quality is good with occasional soft berries. Markets remain flat this week, after a small increase last week. Retail demand is still strong and shippers are not in a hurry to move fruit. We expect Mexico to get started in a light way in 2 weeks. Then slowly ramp up as we move toward the end of April.
AVOCADOS- Many major markets in Canada and the United States have “stay at home orders” limiting residents to only essential travel. Most consumers loaded their pantries a couple weeks ago and grocery store sales have been in limbo as they gauge new customer shopping patterns. Additionally, foodservice sales have been minimal further reducing overall demand. Subsequently, avocado growers in Mexico are commenting that they plan to cease harvesting and packing earlier than usual for Easter break as they take shelter from the COVID-19 outbreak. Industry arrivals last week totaled 36.1 million pounds. Mexico shipped 27.8 million pounds and California harvested 8.3 million pounds. Mexico should continue to lead industry supplies. Volume ranges have broadened given the degree of uncertainty presented under Covid-19 pandemic; April’s weekly averages could vary from 20 - 35 million+ pounds. Mexico- The market has come off this week. We are seeing the size curve shift slightly from 20’s/60’s and smaller to now 16’s/48’s and larger. Also, we are seeing the market pricing start to decline. This seems to be due to demand easing on retail and no demand with foodservice. We are seeing #1 grade fruit tighten up. The trees just continue to produce an excess amount of #2 fruit. Michoacán harvested 24.9 million pounds last week after a rather sizable reduction in the back half of last week. 27.8 million pounds was actually shipped to the United States as a result of carry-over from the previous week combined with last week’s harvest. Harvest volume is expected to trend lower as the market continues to face uncertainty and the size and grade out of Michoacán continues to put strain on field prices for 16’s/48’s and larger. There will be no harvest in Mexico the week of April 5th (Holy Week) followed by the Cinco De Mayo pull. California- Forecast this week for Ventura County calls for temperatures in the mid to upper 60’s. With Mexico falling short on #1 grade fruit, suppliers will lean on California for #1 fruit. California harvested 8.3 million pounds last week. Rain showers continue to affect volumes; estimated harvest is 7 and 8.5 million pounds for this week and next. The majority of the volume is staying on the west but we do expect to see California fruit slowly filter its way across the continent. With that said, we will see more volume hit the pipeline by next week which is a concern now that demand has tapered off. California’s harvest estimate is currently 365 million pounds for the season. Market Outlook – The industry pipeline remains backed up following cuts from both foodservice and retail over the last two weeks. To compensate, harvest out of Mexico and California is reducing to lessen the burden while the industry stabilizes, and the new weekly demand becomes a little clearer. Until the industry moves through inventory already in the pipeline, we could see a lot of variance in market pricing. It will remain difficult to get a good feel for what the “market” truly is over the next week to 10 days. This week has started off with fewer cuts from retail which hopefully signals a leveling off and stabilization of demand.
PEARS– Washington: D’Anjou and Bosc pear movement remain steady to lack-luster due to the lack of foodservice volume and retailers reducing the amount of SKU’s because of labor shortages. There are still good supplies of Anjou pears out of the Pacific Northwest and will have availability right on through to the new crop in late summer. Deals can be had on U.S. #1 large Anjou at this time. The Bosc pears are starting to wind down and we will finish up around the end of April. Bartlett pears finished up in the Pacific Northwest a while ago, but there are now good supplies available from Chile and Argentina. There are also fresh Bosc pears arriving weekly from Chile and Argentina into the ports. Imports: Bartletts and Bosc pears from Chile and Argentina have started, and quality is superb.
TOMATOES– East Coast: It has turned into a buyers’ market for tomatoes. Spring crops are beginning to produce significant volume while foodservice and demand greatly pulls back amidst changes in consumer behavior. Quality is good and the over-abundance of tomatoes has reduced harvest to packing on a per orders basis, leaving excess in the fields. Roma production is steady and light. Prices have adjusted to seasonal lows and quality is good. Grape and cherry tomatoes are also widely available reducing the market pricing to minimums and quality is good. West Coast: Western Mexico has begun harvesting spring crops in the north, adding to overall volume that has been ongoing in the south. Production is well in excess of demand and the market has reached the mandated minimum pricing for all items. There is plenty of product available across all categories. There has been a wide concern over the newly imposed Suspension Agreement Inspections set to start this month disrupting the flow of imports. At least, for now, the current lackluster demand will greatly lighten the load for new inspectors providing more time to acclimate to the new standard.
APPLES- Washington: The apple market has gone through extremes in the past couple of weeks. Last week, orders slowed down significantly after several weeks of frantic sales and record shipments for shippers across the country. The markets have stabilized for now as we wait to see how movement will be over the next couple of weeks. We believe that there will be more deals available this week as growers will be looking for business. The Pink Lady and premium Honeycrisp are still the tightest markets with prices moving up every week. Imports: The import crop from Chile, which runs from April through August, looks to be a normal sized crop and will help to keep a lid on the prices out of Washington on the key import varieties which include Gala, Cripps Pink, Fuji, and Granny Smith.
WILD FORAGED PRODUCTS
WHITE ASPARAGUS- From France. First of the season. Now available. +20mm size
RAMSONS- From France. Wild Bear Garlic. Now available!
STINGING NETTLES- From Oregon. First crop of the season.
WILD SPRING ONIONS- From Oregon. First crop of the season.
WATERCRESS- From Oregon. First crop of the season.
MINERS LETTUCE- From Oregon. First crop of the season.
MORELS- From China. Just getting going.
BLUEFOOT- From France. Better quantities available.
BLACK TRUMPET- From California. Top Quality.
HEDGEHOG- From Oregon. Season winding down. Limited.
YELLOWFOOT- From Oregon. Season winding down.
WINTER TRUFFLES- From Spain. Size getting smaller as season winds down.
NEW ITEMS NOW IN SEASON
CASTLEFRANCO / FORLELLE PEARS / IMPORTED POMEGRANITE / FLORIDA JUICE ORANGE / CARA CARA ORANGE / BLOOD ORANGES / HONEY TANGERINES / PICKLING CUCUMBER / PLUMS / SEVILLE ORANGES / CUBANELLE PEPPER / POMELLO / RUNNER BEANS / ONTARIO HOT HOUSE RHUBARB
ITEMS THAT ARE SHORT
PEACHES / NECTARINES / FAVA BEANS
ITEMS NO LONGER AVAILABLE
GALIA MELONS / ENGLISH PEAS IN THE POD / YELLOW WATERMELON / CHAMPAGNE GRAPES / SHELLED PEAS / BLUE PRUNE PLUMS / CRANBERRIES / PRICKLY PEARS / CHERRIES / APRICOTS / PERSIMMONS / QUINCE / GOLD KIWI / STEM STRAWBERRIES