MARKET REPORT – DEC 8TH, 2017
As discussed on Wednesday, dire issues in California with un-fightable fires continuing to grow in size.
We haven’t heard from any growers, including Churchill Orchards who did let us know they were evacuating, but what we do know is that entire community of Ojai is circled by fire and everyone is gone.
With fires also now burning through the hills in Riverside, north of San Diego, we hate to think of the impact on other growers in that area. The hills are exactly where citrus and avocado growers are located, and as of this morning preliminary estimates from Cal Fruit was that they knew of 400 acres of avocado trees lost so far, but that is just preliminary. Luckily oranges and avocados are live deciduous trees that are irrigated, where grass and scrub land, dotted with pine trees is a far easier target, so fast-moving fires can rip through an orchard but leave trees scarred but alive. This extremely critical fire weather is expected to keep going, although humidity levels (currently 2%-10%) are expected to rise.
Long term predictions are Zero precipitation for all of California through the entire month and a return to conditions seen in all the worst drought years.
Apple prices have dropped 10-15% over the past 2 weeks as growers survey inventories of a high-crop season, and the looming crunch on a couple of million extra boxes of fruit (conventional and organic) hovering in Washington which will affect pricing in general. We mentioned apple sales were down across the U.S. by significant amounts a couple of weeks ago, and we’re now seeing the impact of the glut here.
Citrus pricing is up on California fruit for 2 reasons – fear of lost fruit in Riverside and Ventura counties, and also that harvests have been cancelled in wide areas because of poor air quality – no sending pickers out wearing gas masks!
Scanning through the balance of the fruit line-up, the true focus is on berries, where we are seeing consistent quality on all 4 varieties. Our exclusive Cadesur blueberry program is off to a flying start, and this week we’re introducing Fair Trade raspberries from Mexico from Twin River. These are blueberry farmers from Washington State who have decided to build their brand and provide a near year-round berry program, backed up by family in Argentina and friends in Mexico. All their non-domestic fruit will be certified Fair Trade. Strawberry supply continues difficult with better growing weather across Santa Maria and Oxnard districts but with growers recovering from conditions too hot over the past 3 weeks for their cool winter varieties.
Will close here with an article out today from The Guardian in London that falls into the OMG category:
The underlined highlights are mine.
“Marks & Spencer has begun selling a stoneless avocado that could help banish the pain of “avocado hand”.
The so-called cocktail avocado is 5cm-8cm (2in-3in) in length and has a smooth, edible skin, meaning it can be sliced or eaten whole.
Earlier this year, the British Association of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons identified the problem of increasing numbers of people turning up at A&E cutting their hands and fingers while trying to remove avocado stones, and called for safety labels to be put on the fruit.
Charlotte Curtis, a food technology specialist at M&S, said: “We’ve had the mini, the giant, ready sliced and we’re now launching the holy grail of avocados – stoneless. This amazing fruit has been on our radar for a couple of years and we’re very excited to have finally been able to get hold of some for our customers to try.”
The slimmer fruit is the result of an unpollinated blossom and develops without a seed. It is grown in Spain and currently only available during December. M&S said stoneless avocados were usually sent to Paris, where chefs use them in high-end restaurants, but the retailer had managed to source a limited supply this year.
Curtis said she expected them to sell out quickly, adding: “My top tip is to try them deep fried.”
M&S’s stoneless version is the latest attempt to meet the growing global demand for avocados while supply is being squeezed.
Over the summer, Tesco recently sold an avocado weighing about 70g and nearly one-third of the usual size. M&S is also experimenting with tattooing avocados instead of using sticky labels.