It seems hard to imagine, but the shippers are already talking about moving from the Winter desert deals to the northern areas of Huron, Santa Maria, and Salinas. We are looking to see some items moving as early as next week. Items such as broccoli, cauliflower, and some assorted mixed items will be available in the “new” areas. Items such as lettuce, leaf, green onions, celery, asparagus, and other mix items will continue in the desert through March, then move on up. It is important to know that as we do move northward into the new areas, truck rates start going up, and the pickup time gets longer, meaning, you need to allow another day to get your mixers loaded. To give you an idea, it is approximately 8 hours CLOSER to get to the East coast loading out of the desert than loading out of Salinas.
Long range weather in the desert growing regions show highs in the low 80s, and lows in the 50’s, all normal for this time of year. Also, no rain forecasted in the berry growing regions of Oxnard, Los Angeles, and Santa Maria for the next 10 days.
Trucks are readily available, and rates continue at their season lows. Fuel prices are starting to inch upwards, which will be driving prices up. A month from now, we could see diesel prices up considerably, which will certainly affect truck rates.
LETTUCE–firm market. Prices jumped a bit last week, and the shippers are taking the same approach today. We’ll see how demand shapes up as retail prices are changed. There is enough lettuce in the desert, although not “overly heavy”, so we may not see the market come down much this week, if it does at all. As mentioned above, supplies should continue another 2 to 3 weeks, then move towards Huron.
BROCCOLI–still plenty of bunch 14s and 18s, while crowns are a bit more scattered. Some shippers report NO crowns, while others have them. As as result, we are seeing more of a wider range in the crown market. Supplies are starting to pop up in Salinas and Huron, as well as still going in the desert areas.
CAULIFLOWER–pretty strong market. Even though there is a range in price, the “range” is fairly high. We want to wait to see what retails are doing before we get an idea where the market will be heading. Supplies aren’t overly heavy, so, any increase in demand may push the price up rapidly. On the other hand, because supplies aren’t heavy, we don’t see prices coming down too far, if the demand slips.
LEAF ITEMS–steady on red, green, and romaine. We should have continued supplies in the desert the rest of this month, and into the first 2 weeks of April, then moving northward.
CELERY–celery continues to slip in price, and should bottom out this week. The desert has been a big factor here. There has been quite a bit of Mexican celery in the past month that has contributed to the market slide. We don’t see much change in celery for a few weeks. Now that it is close to the bottom, it can only do one of 2 things–either stay there, or go up.
STRAWBERRIES–Florida is finally seeing better supplies this week, after a MESS last week. California is trying to pick up volume, and it is slow coming. The rains we had the past 3 weeks wreaked havoc with the berry fields, damaging the young fruit and knocking off blooms. It will be another 2 weeks of no rain before we get some good numbers in Oxnard and the rest of Southern California.
ASPARAGUS–the desert is still going, but the shippers look to finish by the end of this month, or by the 10th of April, depending upon the weather. The new areas of Stockton and Lodi are barely starting, and won’t be a factor for another 2 weeks. Easter business is not that far off.