MARKET REPORT – DEC. 28TH, 2018 – extended edition
Hope you all had a pleasant holiday – or at least a rock solid Christmas Day if you had to work a wrap-around – closing late on the 24th and in early on the 26th.
The most stupid piece of news we have today is that the Trump man-child is threatening to seal the US borders. I can’t think of a better way to tank his presidency, and party, than to cut-off Americans from their Mexican bananas, avocados, pineapple, and virtually all their tomatoes, cukes, zucchini, bell peppers, and also severely limit their lettuce, celery and broccoli – which are either grown in Mexico, or harvested in California partially by the 100,000 Mexicans who cross the border every day to go to work.
Likely wouldn’t happen. Would be really crappy for us – we’d have to be putting our produce on the water from Manzanillo – a logistics challenge for sure.
As for reality, because the above isn’t going to happen – here’s your catch-up.
Well, there’s this. The currency chart.
Ignore the blip over Christmas, where the US dollar rose for a moment to over 1.40 CDN – was a computer error for a couple of hours, when no one was actually trading currency. But generally, with continuing craziness from the American president, low oil prices, and scary stock markets, the Canadian dollar lost another 4% so far this month. If there isn’t a large on-going improvement (not likely) you can expect stuff to just be more expensive. Except bananas, because no one dares change a banana price no matter the pain we all share on this one.
Very little change – we are slowly transitioning to Washington as we move through the last of BC on some varieties of apples. As mentioned a few weeks ago, was a shite year for BC growers – besides Mother Nature’s wand-waving which is unpredictable, the big factor this year was SMOKE. Weeks of partially blocked sunlight during a high growth period seemed to be to blame. Avocado supply and pricing are constant. Our best deal of the century last year was bagged avocados at a very reasonable price. We sourced outside the Pragor coop to get enough fruit to do this program, and we will rock with it again. On special this week to kick things off. Jump to citrus – all markets are fairly stable. Pricey compared to years past, but this is the new normal with a myriad of negative influences in California (and Arizona, Texas and Florida), all climate / forest fire / water shortage related, just making things tougher on growers. With Cara Cara now in house, expect a lot more Minneola and Bloods to start showing up next, as well as a plethora of other Satsuma/Tangerine/Clementine derivatives. Mango supply continues to be Ecuador. A lot of fruit now on the water from Peru, so expect a bit of a mango flood in a couple of weeks with competing countries – should bring markets down substantially. Normally the over-lap is very short, but this year Ecuador’s crop came on late, and Peru came on early and the overlaps are much larger this year. Melons are virtually non-existent. Production this time of year is limited to the Guaymas – Culiacan corridor down the Gulf of California, and colder than normal weather is slowing everything down. Expect mini’s back in stock in the next 10 days before there is any hope of seeing a cantaloupe. Culiacan, Sinaloa weather below.
On the left, this is NOT melon growing weather. Reasonable temps return the following weekend. Stay tuned.
Blueberry program is running very smoothly with continuing great quality. Other berries are the issue, with this continuing cold weather affecting every single location in production, from coastal California to central Mexico and all points between. Quality is good, just taking forever to size up. We may actually see good volumes on strawberries later in the week – like everyone else we have been prorated on every order by 50-75% as scant supply is doled out to keep everyone happy – well not really happy, more amused.
Very little has changed on the green / leafy veg side of things. Continuing cold continues to slow production in all growing areas. I’ve posted enough maps and weather reports by now, you all get the picture. Growers were holding out for the highest market prices up until, say Dec. 18. By then the Christmas pull for all of the continent except California itself was done. And they had leftovers. And were desperate to move them. We saw prices plummet 80% on some product from some growers, because they knew, and we knew, that cooler product wouldn’t last forever – coupled with the fact that because of the day Christmas fell on, it created a bridge holiday, which Mexican field workers love – so no harvests from the 22nd to the 27th. Some cheap product is still floating around out there, but prices will firm very quickly, and we weren’t interested, frankly, in bringing in open ticket product harvested a week ago, and instead have topped up with fresh at higher prices.
You have to understand that growth this time of year is always limited. Eternal sun doesn’t stretch north in December but growers know that and plant for the short-day cold cycle. But once everything falls behind, there is no catch-up until soil and air temperatures start to hit normal. It’s not that cold in Imperial or Yuma – just a few degrees below “average.” But that’s enough to put a lot of plants to sleep. If you think about it, the forecasts down there for this weekend are lows of 2C and highs of 15C. Well, that’s a March day in the Fraser Valley – an early April day in Vernon – not the kind of weather that we would even transplant in, much less finish off a cauliflower stand.
I can’t help myself. Here’s the forecast for Holtville (Lakeside) – smack dab in the middle of the Imperial Valley. There have already been 6 nights in the past 2 weeks with a touch of ground frost, and there is a freeze advisory out for Saturday, Tuesday and Wednesday nights for a hard freeze.
We like to gloat about our brilliant move to contract grow lettuce, broccoli, celery etc. way far south in Guanajuato so we could avoid this nearly annual occurrence. Last week we had -3C down there as well. Not extraordinary, but still, not what we were expecting. Luckily, when the temperature drops that low, it is only below freezing for a very brief window and rebounds to 8C or above early in the morning. We don’t get freeze damage, but we also experience slow growth. That cold push into Mexico hit many areas that have never had frost before, doing major damage to thousands of hectares of lime trees which have no stamina to resist instant death at those temperatures.
I won’t bore you (again) with the climatology around this enduring cold – sagging polar vortexes, omega blocking ridges or upper level troughs. If you want to know why this is happening, and why I think I can pretty easily project this into a climate discussion, email me directly.
See you next year!