Market Conditions – March 20

Weather Update

A series of cold fronts are forecast to roll into California through the end of the month with moderate winds and rain and cooler temperatures. These systems will bring a slight chance of rain along with strong gusty winds (25-40mph) and cooler temperatures to the Southwestern Desert regions as they pass to the north. Seasonably warm temperatures look to continue across Mexico through March with passing storm system remaining well to the north. High pressure brings dry conditions to Florida through the weekend in front of another low-pressure system expected to bring rain and strong winds to much of the state early next week.

Apples: In the world of apples, shippers continue to struggle with loading large volume for foodservice sizes ( , 138ct, and 150ct) on all varieties. We continue to see decreased volumes in eastern growing regions; which has shifted demand out west. This has caused prices to slowly increase, while export business helps to maintain the elevated prices. Expect this state of affairs to remain for the rest of the season and know that some size substitutions will be necessary going forward.

Green Bell Pepper: Light volume of green bell pepper continues to arrive in Nogales this week. Currently, low volume is being harvested in Sinaloa and Sonora. The quality on green bells from both regions is good. Demand currently exceeds supply on green bells. Supplies on green bells are expected to increase through the week as better temperatures are being seen in the growing region. Market on Green bells is high/steady on all sizes. Green bell peppers from Mexico are also available to load in McAllen, TX.

Red Bell Pepper: Good supply of Red Bell pepper arriving in Nogales, AZ from Mexico this week. The market/price on the red bell pepper has started to decrease this week. Better volume on both elongated and Hot House bells in all pack styles. Better numbers on both varieties are expected through the week. Quality of red bell on both varieties is good. Red bell supplies from Mexico currently crossing through both Nogales, AZ and McAllen, TX.

Strawberries: California is currently enjoying the tail end of several days of dry warmer weather. Temperatures have steadily risen since last Thursday and plants are setting up nicely for better quality and production towards the end of next week. That being said we are expecting another storm to pass through the growing areas on Tuesday night. As the storm front passes we are expecting cooler temperatures Thursday morning. Rains are expected to be light. These cooler temperatures will last through the weekend with another chance of rain occurring Monday which is projected to linger through Wednesday. These weather occurrences continue to keep production lower and markets firm.

Celery: Celery supplies continue to be extremely limited. Demand exceeds supply in all growing regions. In California, we are expecting more rain this week. Salinas, Oxnard and Santa Maria are all anticipating showers throughout the weekend. In Yuma and Mexico, the weather has started to warm up, but production numbers are still far below normal. Quality is fair with some discoloration, insect damage, slight pith, and leafiness being reported. Demand is still very strong. Market prices continue to climb with quotes this week in the high 60’s. We expect supplies to continue to be a challenge and markets to remain active for the next 2-3 weeks.

Limes: The market continues to be active and is expected to continue on a weekly basis. Inbounds from Mexico have been very light and demand has increased. Peak sizes remain to be 200’s & 230’s. Industry-wide, we should expect 110’s & 150’s to be light in supplies. Reports from Mexico are that March will be a very short month on quantities. We are advising customers to avoid running lime ads for March due to unpredictable quantity and lack of commitments from the growers.

Cucumbers: Good supplies of cucumber crossing through Nogales, AZ this week from Sinaloa, MX. Quality out of the Sinaloa district is good. Light supplies of cucumbers also starting to be harvested in the Mexican State of Sonora this week. Supplies have increased as growers in Sonora have started to harvest new fields. Currently, all sizes being packed in 1 1/9 bushel pack and carton cucumber. The cucumber market has stabilized and is expected to remain steady throughout the week. Quality out of both districts is good.

Green Grapes: Green grape availability is fairly consistent this week, but most shippers are warning of lighter supplies starting in the next 2 weeks. Arrivals of import green grapes are expected to slow down by the beginning of April and come to an end by mid-April. Shippers will begin to stock up on storage supplies over the next several weeks and slowly release inventory from controlled environments as needed. However, supplies will be monitored closely and market prices will certainly start to climb. I expect to see some challenges with supplies and quality by the end of April. Prices will start to work their way upward as we move forward. Mexico and Coachella harvest are expected to start early to mid-May.

Kale: The kale market continues to come off this week as more supplies have come on with the recent nice weather in Yuma. Quality is good with full bunches, and only an occasional yellow leaf being reported.

Leaf Lettuce: Leaf lettuces have improved in quality and volume over the last week. Better weather in the Yuma growing regions has contributed to the improvements. Although we are seeing some better quality, shippers are still warning of residual damage such as blister, peel, and discoloration. Due to the volume increases, we are seeing the markets react and adjust down gradually. Demand has been moderate. With the warm weather expected to last another 5-7 day in Yuma, we can expect to see much of the same over the next week. Huron is expected to get started by the end of March.

Onions: Onion markets remain active in Idaho and Washington as demand is heavy and the season winds down. Yellow and red pricing has reached the middle teens with white onions extremely high and very limited. Late storage crop yellow onions in the Northwest are expected to last through April, Mexico is crossing a few more yellow sweets and white into the U.S. with domestic Texas starting up on yellow onions this week. Expect domestic Texas red and white onions to follow the first week of April. California desert region is expected to start with new crop yellow onions mid-April. Quality remains good with some translucency showing up in the late storage onions. A reminder that the translucency must be two full rings in order to be considered a quality defect. Proper air circulation in your onion holding rooms is essential this time of year.

Potatoes: Russet potato carton markets are steady to slightly higher consumer demand picks up and production on cartons increases. Large size 70 count and up remain light in supply especially as we transition into Burbanks. The Burbank storage crop size profile will lean towards 80 count and smaller. Larger size potatoes will remain limited for the remainder of the Idaho storage crop season. Washington, Colorado, and Wisconsin continue to produce smaller sizes as well. Expect markets to remain firm. Quality issues for late storage potatoes include internal/external bruising, light hollow heart, external cuts, light peepers, and occasional soft rot.

Tomatoes: Mexico farms are at the end of their crops in Sinaloa resulting in a stronger national market rising prices for the US at AZ and TX crossings. Mexico farms in Culiacan have had to endure several cold rain systems amidst crops transitioning between winter and spring acreage slowing the rate of crossings into the US, resulting in significantly higher prices. As typical for March, the small spike in pricing is expected to subside the further into March farms progress as new programs begin in Sonora. Grape tomatoes are in good production and widely available offering further value but may begin to strengthen as well as a result of farms realizing their seasonal decline. With mostly dry and warm weather conditions returning this week, markets may continue to rise in the short term and then improve the second half of the month as supply is restored through McAllen and Nogales facilities.