Well, the romaine lettuce fiasco should be over now, but the fix is causing its own set of issues. The implicated lettuce was harvested in the Salinas/Watsonville area of California, causing the industry to make an early move to Yuma and the Imperial Valley. The problem is that the lettuce there is not fully mature yet, so yields are lower than expected and they’re going to go through their crop faster than normal by harvesting lettuces that are smaller and immature. Expect this trend to continue until further notice for all lettuces.
Broccoli and Cauliflower are still coming from the Salinas Valley, causing transportation issues in getting them to where the rest of the California vegetables are coming from now. Supplies are very tight on both of these items and farmers are pro-rating orders by as much as 90%.
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.
Apple harvests are in the cooler now, and the projections are for a good season. Honeycrisps in particular are being grown at quantities never seen before due to their popularity. A benefit to the increase in Honeycrisp plantings is that they’re selling for lower prices than ever before.
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.
California has finished their melon season, so we’re seeing short supplies out of Mexican and Central American farms. 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.
The Romaine Empire has fallen. Caesar is dead. Lettuce Pray.
Download the PDF version of this Produce Supply Update.