Another interesting week in the world of produce! The biggest news and the most impactful to menus is the CDC’s advisory to not use Romaine Lettuce due to an E. coli link. They are recommending that everyone throw away any you have on hand and do not eat it, sell it, or serve it. This is an expensive proposition for everyone in the supply chain, including you, and we’re all
feeling the pain from it.
Suddenly everyone is scrambling and looking for substitutions and using much more than normal of those items. As a result, the price of leaf lettuce, iceberg, and other things has jumped up and
there’s not enough to go around. Hopefully the issue will resolve itself soon and the CDC will be able to find the source and the advisory will be lifted. With almost a solid week of rain in Florida and a very hard frost in Mexican tomato regions this past week, tomatoes dried up overnight. Suddenly they were extremely limited and fetching top dollar. Ripeness has been a struggle also on the short supplies.
Expect higher pricing for the next few weeks. Mexican avocado growers and pickers have worked out an agreement, but with the gap in production and harvesting, the pipeline of product is empty. It will take a couple of weeks for things to get back to normal. Until then, expect short supplies and green fruit. As retailers gear up for Christmas season, the demand on trucking companies to deliver everything from Ugly Christmas Sweaters to Christmas Trees and Elmo Dolls causes disruptions and shortages in available trucks. The truckers’ phones are ringing off the hook, so they start asking for more money for each haul. Freight rates go up on all things, so final price to the consumer goes up on all things.
The forest fires in California have caused some unanticipated issues for the produce community. The smoke from the fires is keeping harvesters out of the fields, so some items are just unavailable because they can’t get out to pick the product. California has finished their melon season, so we’ll start seeing fruit from Central America very soon. The downside of the transition is that oftentimes the fruit is harvested less mature so that it can make the trip to America.
Florida has begun their citrus season. This week we’ll start stocking tangerines, Florida grapefruit, and navel oranges.
Q: Why did the turkey play in the band?
A: Because he had the drumsticks.
Q: What is a snowman’s favorite drink?
A: Ice Tea
Download the PDF version of this Produce Supply Update.