MARKET REPORT – JAN. 27TH, 2016
Plastic bananas full of coke
This isn’t the first time similar news items pop up, as this one did over the weekend.
“Anti-narcotics police in Ecuador found 1.5 metric tons (MT) of cocaine in recent seizures, with part of the contraband hidden in artificial bananas. Website Eluniverso.com reported a drug bust was carried out on properties in the areas of El Carmen, Buena Fe and Santo Domingo de los Tsáchilas on Wednesday and Thursday last week, leading to 10 arrests. On Wednesday morning, agents at the port of Fertisa in Guayaquil intercepted a container of bananas that would have been shipped to the United States.”
More amusing is when people in stores report they’ve found plastic bananas full of coke to the police, which means someone at the receiving end screwed up and didn’t retrieve the contraband, which leads to the next smile – how many times do plastic bananas filled with coke slip through the cartels hands and into the young kid stocking the shelf, and this doesn’t go reported to the police, and accounts for that person mysteriously and suddenly quitting their job and buying a new car. Don’t start feeling up every banana on your rack – you won’t find a plastic one.
Bottom line is that as soon as this happens, every banana container arriving at port around the world becomes suspect. And why are we out of bananas for a few days? A last minute inspection was called on Friday, just as we were about to pick the container up from port, and will now be delivered on Wednesday after they have poked, prodded and sniffed. And of course, they have to examine our mango load that’s in town as well, just in case there are plastic mangos full of coke.
OK onto the real news – BC apples are selling through quickly, surprisingly quickly, and you will see our list populate with more and more Washington supply, and at higher price points. We had some amusement on Friday and took a price list from an organic wholesaler in Oregon and converted the prices to Canadian dollars and a little bit extra for brokerage and additional shipping costs to Vancouver. Stores in Seattle are buying CA Honeycrisp’s for $100 a case – which translates to over $150 Canadian. So just generally plan on all apple prices inching up 10-25% over the next month, and that South American imports will match those high Washington prices.
Nothing much has changed on the fruit front – which really focusses on the citrus category this time of year – there’s some amazing choices out there – you just have to figure out which of the specialty varieties to stock without overwhelming customers and confusing cashiers. Pick a couple, see how they price out and how they taste, and focus on those that are distinct and promotable. Lemon prices are stable, but the seasonal lime shortage has begun, with prices rising. Because of the substantial increase in lime sales (volumes and prices) over the last few years, growers have become much more market savvy. I remember meeting a lime grower from Veracruz who said – “just pay me whatever you think is fair as long it’s over $11”. Of course, we weren’t in a place to buy full loads of limes, but it was interesting that he had no idea his limes were fetching a broker somewhere in Texas or Miami well over $20 a case. Well, those days are over, and lime growers are now very connected to the marketplace, partly because their high priced crop is now of interest to the cartels – yet another expensive commodity they can control and another opportunity to launder narco-money, and those sleezy brokers making a piss-pot of money, well they are now back to making their 15% and the growers are getting the extra loot.
Mangos – well, what we can say – starting a very successful season, with a lineup of containers set to carry us through to the Mexican harvest, when our Pragor Fairtrade deal will start up again. Don’t forget about our excellent price on 7’s – we have a small volume left and 1600 cases of 7’s arriving mid-week.
Final note on veg pricing – we are seeing some relief on all greens, as we hoped for and predicted. When more fields are open for harvesting and crops are ready, there is no real rush to sell kale or chard or parsley – the push is on, however, for crops that won’t wait 3 weeks to harvest – so expect the current plunge on broccoli to extend to lettuce as well in the next couple of weeks.