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MARKETS AND TRENDS

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
Double-digit increase anticipated for Chilean cherry imports
The Chilean Cherry Committee, an entity associated with the Chilean Fruit Exporters Association, commonly referred to as ASOEX, expects total exports of fresh cherries from Chile to reach 100,000 tons this year. As the second-largest export market for Chile, North America anticipates a 45 percent increase in volume over the 2013-14 season. To support this dramatic... Read more
S.C. watermelon production up 64 percent over 2013
Aided by good weather, South Carolina’s 2014 watermelon crop recorded a robust gain of 64 percent over last year’s total, according to a National Watermelon Report by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. As production ended in early August, the state had shipped almost 81 million pounds of seeded and seedless watermelons. Georgia, usually the leading state for... Read more
N.C. sweet potato harvest is complete and back to normal, reports indicate
BENSON, NC — The 2014 North Carolina sweet potato harvest was wrapping up in early November — 86 percent complete, according to the North Carolina Agribusiness Council — and back to normal proportions and of high quality, according to the head of the North Carolina Sweet Potato Commission and several growers. Sue Johnson-Langdon, executive director of the... Read more
Florida fresh production keeps consumers well-stocked into winter
The Sunshine State has a lot to brag about when it comes to production of fresh produce. “Florida’s unique advantage is that we are the predominant U.S. source for fresh-market vegetables in the fall, winter and early spring months,” said Thomas Perny, marketing specialist with the Division of Marketing & Development, Florida Department of Agriculture &... Read more
Western winter vegetable supplies — late, light and expensive
It appears as if the winter vegetable deal from the California and Arizona desert may be one for the ages. Decreased production in the shoulder deal from Huron in California’s San Joaquin Valley promises to get the winter deal off to a fast start in terms of pricing. Throw in weather issues that have generally decreased winter vegetable volume across the board... Read more
China reopens market access to Washington apple growers
On Oct. 29, the Washington Apple Commission announced the reinstatement of market access to China for Red and Golden Delicious apples. “Shipments of Washington apples to China stopped in August of 2012, when the Chinese government refused to issue import permits to Chinese importers, citing concerns with a recently discovered fungus they claimed was not in China,”... Read more
With good demand and decreasing supplies, the rising lettuce market appears to have found its place above $30. "We've had very good prices for the last 10 days to two weeks," said Denny Donovan, sales manager at Fresh Kist Produce LLC in Salinas, CA. "Salinas, Huron and Santa Maria are all winding down, so it looks like this will hold until volume picks up in... Read more
Double-digit increases expected for U.S. imports of Chilean cherries
  The Chilean Cherry Committee, an entity associated with the Chilean Fruit Exporters Association, expects total exports of fresh cherries from Chile to reach 100,000 tons this year. As the second-largest export market for Chile, North America anticipates a 45 percent increase in volume over the 2013/14 season. To support this dramatic growth, the Chilean... Read more
With California’s coastal and San Joaquin Valley vegetable deals winding down prior to the volume coming on in the desert deals, many items are in a demand-exceeds-supply situation that could remain in effect through Thanksgiving. On Monday, Oct. 27, the Iceberg lettuce market hit $20 f.o.b. and there is every indication it could go much higher over the next... Read more
After more than two years without access to China for Washington Red and Golden Delicious apples, USDA's Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service officially announced reinstatement of market access for apples from Washington state to China, effective immediately. Shipments of Washington apples to China stopped in August of 2012, when the Chinese government... Read more
Avocados from Mexico expects volume increase, 70 percent market share
During the 2013-14 crop year, which ran through June 30, the Mexican Avocado industry enjoyed a 66 percent market share in the United States. "With the good start we have seen this year, I think we are going to be around 70 percent of the market," Alvaro Luque, president of Avocados from Mexico, said in an interview with The Produce News. Avocados from Mexico... Read more