EARTH DAY MARKET REPORT – APR. 22ND 2016
It’s all about green-washing, just sayin’
Apples: Market continues to shift with Washington done on Granny, Pink Lady winding down, Fuji about to end – leaving Washington Red Delicious the only one left in a few weeks. Import Gala are in, but Fuji and Braeburn arrivals from the S. Hemisphere won’t start for a month. This is a very tight transition so expect some potential gaps on all but Gala. Ouch!
Berries: Blackberries are tight, raspberries are tighter and California strawberry growers are suffering. After a big flush on early Albion’s, on and off rain and heat are hurting the other varieties – this is the time when California should be busting their britches, and not begging for fruit. Raspberries are suffering from high humidity and mildew issues.
Avocado: We’re into the home run stretch on avocado – biggest sales are in the spring months, fruit is at its peak with oil content stretching up to 26% for extra rich and creamy flesh, but prices are starting to inch up as growers watch volumes as they go into the lean months, especially in anticipation of Cinco de Mayo, which is just around the corner, when nearly 10% of annual consumption in the US hovers in the lead-up to the annual holiday.
Citrus: Navels are winding down over the next month, Cara Cara are winding down quickly (although we expect supply for up to 3 more weeks,) most specialties are winding down, Kumquats winding down, Mexican grapefruit volumes down, Texas citrus done – we’re nearly at that point in time when the selection dwindles to a just starting California Valencia Season – but no worries – take up all that shelf space with Melons! Lemon pricing is continuing to climb – only deal we could find today, and turned down, were 50’s, which you could mix a cocktail in.
Melons: Good volumes on bins, mini’s, icebox sizes, and building volumes on cantaloupe. Mexico should wind down over the next 7 or 8 weeks, and California starting in the desert in 4 weeks and Bakersfield in 6.
Pears: No gapping here – great selection across multiple varieties.
Mangos: Michoacan is just starting to pack. We’ll have our first load from Elite rolling middle of next week. Prices will start to come off as harvests ramp up for what should be a strong 8 week season including Nayarit (north of Puerta Vallarta). After that there is a lot of speculation with poor flowering in Sinaloa and southern Sonora, so the Mexican season may become pricey by late summer.
Asparagus: California is already starting to wind down, although the end is probably 2-3 weeks away. Washington should be strong for another 10 days, and our normal supply from Mobetta in the Interior won’t happen this year because a switch in certifiers has left them un-certified at this point in time. Oops.
Broccoli and Cauli are stable. Celery pricing is about to soar with prices up 50% from a week ago in California. The desert is done and coastal supplies are weeks away. Kale is tighter, especially because of some endemic issue with Lacinato that no one has really figured out. (We’ve got good supply from Agrofresco – don’t worry!) Lettuce stable – with strong supply from Agrofresco so we haven’t had to worry too much about California quality issues because of rain and high humidity, but expect high pricing to kick in on some chards, cilantro, green onions etc. with the desert areas done and major swings in temperature (rain/cool, sunny/hot) that are unusual for Salinas really affecting quality. Spinach, arugula and a couple others are also being affected by mildew, damping-off on transplants etc.
Sub-tropicals. Peppers from Mexico are tightening up, with pressure in the States for more Canadian HH product. Cukes and Zukes are both in glut mode as some Mexican producers are cleaning shadehouses before they shut down in a couple of weeks – supply will move to desert California fairly quickly and prices will rise! Tomatoes are stable for now, if not a bargain, with house-cleaning underway.
Roots: Big issue here is a complex shortage of table and juice carrots, offset by abundance of Nantes Bunchers. Prices continue to climb on both.
Washington asparagus should be strong into next week, when production moves east of the Cascades to Andersen – same growers who are our primary onion supplier – although some California supply will also be in the mix. Onions are OK for now, with a likely uptick on red pricing with Washington storage all out of the shed and Imperial earlies not hardened off yet. Potatoes are no issue – abundant selection from multiple sources.
Now for my Earth Day Rant – and it’s all about green-washing. Having been an Earth Day organizer back in the 80’s, and having watched nearly 3 decades of companies trying to act, taste and look green, but…..not really be green at all, well I am taking the liberty to talk about one big-time green-washing campaign. And it’s sad that Earth Day events are still talking about recycling and paint with no lead in it, and not about the major changes people have to make before we extinctify the whole planet. (I know it’s not a real word.)
Just sayin’, and this is my personal opinion.
Assuming most of you turn on the telly once in a while, you may have seen the carpet-bombing of ads from General Mills and their ‘save the bees’ campaign. General Mills has also agreed to do some GMO labelling in the U.S. Their own company information has stated that they oppose GM labelling unless it’s mandatory across the U.S., and not just state-by-state. However, because Vermont voted for mandatory GMO labelling, and the Republicans haven’t found a way to kill it off, General Mills decided to start labelling GMO products across the U.S. so they wouldn’t have to do separate print-runs for boxes for each state. So congratulations to this giant company for promoting bee health, guaranteeing that Honey Nut Cheerios have no GM corn starch and sugar, and labelling GMO products in the U.S., especially since it is a little two-faced, being that they donated $2.6 Million dollars (US) over the last 2 years to fight GMO labelling propositions in California, Washington, Colorado and Vermont, along with Campbell’s, Nestlé’s, Safeway, PepsiCo etc., (to the tune of nearly $40 Million US in total.) (Source: Environmental Working Group. Compiled from Center for Responsive Politics and lobbying disclosure forms filed with the Clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives and the Secretary of the U.S. Senate.) And General Mills certainly haven’t quit using GMO tainted ingredients across most of their other food products. Cheerios was an easy leap for them, because they are made with oats, which aren’t genetically modified. Other cereal makers have also jumped on this new marketing pitch, especially considering most cereal grains besides corn aren’t GMO.
Whoa Nellie! In my humble opinion, this is the biggest green-washing campaign I’ve ever tripped over.
First, there has now been enough scientific study to pretty-much confirm that neonicitinoid pesticides confuse bee’s very sensitive homing signals, and they get lost and die, not being able to find their way home to the hive. (At least enough evidence that the EU has restricted their use, and they are outright banned in several European countries.) This is considered the primary cause for ‘colony collapse disorder’ that has had the agricultural world ‘abuzz’ about the decline of pollinators – not only commercial bee colonies that are transported around the continent to fertilize fruit, nut and berry orchards and fields, but die-off of dozens of other varieties of indigenous bees. This class of pesticides are the ones used on GMO crops like corn, sugar, canola, cotton, etc.
Now, to the wildflowers which General Mills wants you to plant – if you write or email them they will send you some. Their campaign is to plant 35 Million Wildflowers. Impressive. Except it really isn’t. First of all, when you plant 100 seeds, you don’t get 100 plants – whether its corn, broccoli or flowers – the actual germination rate for wildflowers varies greatly, but you can use 66% as a rough guide. Second, you don’t plant wildflowers, you scatter them. They won’t germinate unless they are in the sun. At least ¾ of wildflower seeds are eaten by birds – from the time seeds fall on the ground in the fall, until they germinate in the spring. So if you plant 100, you are only going to get 25% of 66% of them – really about 15. That’s the first bit of math. Last year I bought a pound and sowed them over our own ½ acre and got the sporadic flower here and there. Disappointed!
Wildflower seeds are tiny – 250,000 to the pound, so the 35 million seeds the Cheerios folks want you to plant is about 125 pounds of seed in total – and at $899 for 5 pounds, this works out to a total investment of $22,000, and I’m sure they are getting a deal, not the $899 you would pay from a retail seed company. If you were able to count out seeds and sow about 4 seeds per square foot, you would cover 5 acres, but after attrition, you would end up with about 1 for every 2 square feet. So, just sayin’, if General Mills announced they were only going to use organic or certified non-GMO corn, sugar and canola in Cheerios in all their products, and were going to distribute 35 Billion seeds, they would deserve a big shout-out, but it appears that they are spending probably millions promoting their seed purchase of $22,000, which will, in all reality, sparsely seed a couple of city blocks at what will be one flower for every couple of square feet.
And there’s the disappointment factor. Wildflowers drop their seeds in the fall, then germinate and grow into plants in the summer, and many varieties don’t produce a flower until the second summer – 18 months later. So now, moms and dads are going to take their kids out to sow 100 seeds in their backyard in the spring and summer, which isn’t really the best time, and potentially not see one flower. Heart-breaking for those kids who watch and wait from their bedroom windows for the first bloom that’s going to save their bees! Disappointing!