Never before have we seen such a significant increase in fuel costs, and the entire economy is affected. From pencils to peppers, everything needs to be transported by truck, causing retail prices to explode. Produce prices are greatly affected by this economical disaster, with freight lines quoting as high as 10,000 dollars for California to Northeast runs. Produce companies are experiencing huge overhead and taking losses during what should be the most profitable time of year. Long range weather is showing a slight warming trend toward the end of this week and temperatures peaking into the 80s by this weekend. Temperatures should then start to cool back down after the weekend and into next week.
LETTUCE — Generally this time of year sees declining lettuce sales due to the fact that more people are planning fruit salads. This year is showing significant declines compared to last year thanks to expensive freight rates. Product is coming out of Salinas and Santa Maria areas. Weights are improving and quality is some of the best we have seen all year,
BROCCOLI — Good quality all around. Weather has been cool and mild for the majority of the growing period. There have been some warmer days, but not hot enough to affect product. There are plenty of deals out there.
CAULIFLOWER — Some discoloration issues, yellowing from sunburn and some molding but very minimal. Shippers are able to sort through the product and preemptively solve any problems that may come up. Some spotting has been detected, but not enough to affect overall appearance.
LEAF ITEMS — Very few problems here as well. Weather has been very mild. Leaf is very susceptible to hot weather, but our hot days have been minimal. As the days warm up over the next week, we will be on the watch for problems that may arise.
CELERY –Salinas has officially started as Oxnard production continues. Oxnard quality has been good, however, the beginning of Salinas is seeing some pale color and short stalks, but product is improving daily, as are numbers. Seed stem is only about 3 inches, while 10 inches is allowed. Delivered prices remain high and continue to climb as freight rates skyrocket.
STRAWBERRIES — Demand is high for berries as summer begins. There have been some supply issues during transition from Oxnard to Salinas and Santa Maria, but Salinas production has come up with the extra fruit. Non Driscoll shippers are looking for business and are significantly less expensive. Quality is good; weather has been nice and cool, producing solid, colorful fruit. Freight is cheaper with berries compared to lettuce or celery because more berries can fit onto a pallet. It is because of this, high freight rates have actually helped increase demand for strawberries.