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MARKETS AND TRENDS

A couple of weeks of above-normal temperatures since the middle of January have helped bring on vegetables supplies in the western desert areas causing f.o.b. prices to come off their highs. In early- to mid-January, light supplies had Iceberg lettuce prices approaching $30 per carton and most other vegetables items in the high teens or in the $20 arena. But... Read more
Good quality, shortfall in other areas could bode well for Colorado spuds
Jim Ehrlich, executive director of the Colorado Potato Administrative Committee, said a marketplace shortage of cartons has reflected in the price of potatoes this shipping season, and given that “our quality is probably the best in the industry year-in and year-out,” Colorado could have an advantage with volume. “The way it's working out, it could be a better... Read more
The U.S. Department of Agriculture decreased its forecast of the 2014-15 Florida orange crop by almost 5 percent, or 5 million boxes. The USDA now says Florida will produce 103 million boxes of oranges this season, down from the 108 million predicted in December. The early-mid orange varieties dropped by 4 million boxes to 48 million, while the Valencia forecast... Read more
Significant changes in pricing and supply are spicing up dynamics in the domestic ginger market. Jim Provost, owner of I Love Produce in Kelton, PA, summarized things this way in late December: “When China hits full capacity, within about the next 30 days [by the middle of January 2015], prices will drop to 2012-2013 levels.” Provost said the current high ginger... Read more
During the last week of December, six nights of cold weather swept through the San Joaquin Valley, but temperatures did not fall low enough to produce any significant damage to the California citrus crop. However, that same cold front did pass through the desert vegetable production regions, delaying harvest each morning and limiting supplies as a result. Citrus... Read more
Overnight low temperatures in California's citrus production areas were forecasted to moderate Jan. 5 and gradually rise for the remainder of the week. Six nights of critically cold weather kept growers busy protecting California's $2.4 billion citrus crop over the extended New Year's weekend. Citrus growers had run water and wind machines in their... Read more
The much-feared devastating freezing temperatures didn’t quite materialize in California’s San Joaquin Valley over the last few nights, and consequently the California citrus crop experienced little damage. Below-freezing temperatures did prevail for several nights, necessitating the use of frost-protection tools, but the needle didn’t drop low enough or the... Read more
Potato movement good, but transportation a concern for Red River Valley shippers
Ted Kreis, marketing director of the Northern Plains Potato Growers Association, said “movement is going well.” USDA figures show “for the week ending Dec. 6 that 124,000 hundredweight of Red River Valley potatoes had been shipped. “This is up 18 percent this year over the previous year. And it’s more than 2012 and 2011 too,” Kreis added. For 2014 as a whole... Read more
S.C. peach crop finishes strong, close to 2013 production totals
COLUMBIA, SC — Despite an early freeze that killed an estimated 20 percent of the 2014 peach crop, production finished strong and managed to pull within shouting distance of last year’s harvest. Matt Cornwell, marketing specialist for peaches at the South Carolina Department of Agriculture here, said final totals, as reported by the U.S. Department of Agriculture... Read more
USApple reporting 2014 apple crop is one of the largest on record
On Dec. 1, this year’s fresh apple holdings totaled 122.2 million bushels, a 16 percent increase from the same time last year, according to the December 2014 edition of the U.S. Apple Association’s Market News. “Processing holdings totaled 44.6 million bushels, 3 percent above last year on Dec. 1,” said Mark W. Seetin, director, regulatory and industry affairs... Read more
Weather conditions in Chile have been favorable for this season’s crops
Apart from some recent rains that affected cherry volumes, weather conditions have been favorable for this season. “We expect to see volume increases across all commodities, even cherries,” said Karen Brux, managing director of the Chilean Fresh Fruit Association, North America, based in San Carlos, CA. The news is especially good because Chile saw large volume... Read more
N.C. sweet potato production rises to meet demand
Consumer demand in the United States for sweet potatoes has risen by 40 percent since 2008. With exports rising exponentially during the same period, North Carolina, a leading state in sweet potato production, has increased its volume to meet the demand. “North Carolina’s growers and shippers have invested heavily in producing and marketing a quality product... Read more
Harvesting in Chile's Copiapó Valley has begun, and the first grapes of the Chilean season are on their way to the North American market. With favorable climatic conditions throughout the past year, the Chilean Fresh Fruit Association anticipates that export volumes from Copiapó will grow from 10 million boxes to more than 11 million boxes. North America is the... Read more
The U.S. Department of Agriculture's monthly forecast for the 2014-15 orange crop remains unchanged at 108 million boxes. Early-mid varieties accounted for 52 million boxes, while Valencias came in at 56 million boxes. The USDA makes its initial estimate in October of each year and revises it monthly as the crop takes shape until the end of the season in July. The... Read more
As expected, the break in vegetable demand at the end of November brought the lettuce market down to earth, but a solid market is expected as the Christmas pull begins the week of Dec. 8-12. Vic Smith of JV Smith Cos., a large vegetable grower headquartered in Yuma, AZ, told The Produce News Dec. 5 that the early-season quality problems that limited supplies... Read more
Export sales of U.S. sweet potatoes surged 80 percent in the past five years, reaching a record $95 million, according to the American Sweet Potato Marketing Institute. Exports have jumped sharply to regions targeted by the association’s international market development efforts, and are continuing to rise this year. “There’s no doubt that global demand for U.S.... Read more
Shipments of Florida strawberries began in mid-November in a light way with much greater volume expected by the week of Dec. 8, which is right on target, according to Kenneth Parker of the Florida Strawberry Growers Association. “We typically run from November through March,” said the association’s newly appointed executive director, adding that the crop can... Read more
Idaho potatoes continue to strengthen brand nationally, expand it internationally
Idaho is known for potatoes. Idaho continues to lead the nation in potato production, as it has done for many years, and more than 96 percent of the Idaho Potato Commission's target audience identify Idaho as the state best known for growing potatoes. Internationally, people also associate the Idaho name with potatoes, as Frank Muir, president of the IPC, has... Read more
Fresh produce flowing freely into Southeastern U.S. ports
In 2013 fresh produce was permitted to arrive into Florida ports for the first time in several decades under a pilot program agreed to by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. It was a great success and today fresh fruits and vegetables are flowing freely from offshore countries. The program was the result of collaborative efforts by the Florida Perishables Trade... Read more
If a retailer is selling blueberries, grapes or stone fruit — such as peaches, plums and nectarines — during the winter months, chances are the fruit is from Chile, said Karen Brux, managing director of the San Carlos, CA-based Chilean Fresh Fruit Association, North America. “As the largest fruit exporter in the Southern Hemisphere, Chile exports more than 800,000... Read more