MARKET REPORT – JULY 8TH, 2016
Well, it is blueberry madness out there
A rapidly changing climate continues to play havoc on expected harvest dates. One thing we rarely consider is the changing gas make-up in our atmosphere. For decades greenhouse growers have been supplementing the atmosphere in their greenhouses by pumping in extra CO2. Plants need Carbon Dioxide like we need Oxygen.
Olympic athletes often train at high elevations (mile high Denver, CO being one of them.) That teaches their lungs to absorb more oxygen from thinner air, so they can take in more oxygen when competing at sea level. Athletes also “oxygen dope” before events. Greenhouse growers artificially raised the CO2 level from 280 ppm to 400 ppm in their greenhouses, and were able to reduce growing times to harvest substantially. Sort of like doping for plants. So now, we’re growing crops 20 years later with over 400 ppm available from the atmosphere – no doping required – and every variety of every crop is adapting to their super-charged CO2 supply differently. Despite a “normal” summer, we are still seeing surprising early starts on many crops, so I’m going to blame it on the above, because, well, it just makes sense. Some of our grower reports for this week included predictions of first harvests of Gala and Macintosh by the 1st week of August. 10 years ago that was late August for Gala and Labour Day for Macs. We also heard there will be a short apricot season because many late varieties are ripening at the same time as the early and mid-season varieties. The first Interior plums will start harvest in 6-8 days. Apples , the low down on the crunchy and sweet
Sunrise and Earligold apples are expected to start harvest early next week. We’ve never listed Earligold or Sunrise before the 21st of July and 10 years ago in the first week of August. See what I mean?
You can expect to see a wide variety of early dessert apples populate our listings over the next 10 days – Vista Bella, Transparent, Sumac, Discovery, William’s Pride etc., then the floodgates are apparently going to open in 10 days as these early Sunrise and Earligold harvests go across pack lines.
Avocado – well it was a nice short gap we had on our Fairtrade fruit. As you may remember from the past, we can’t just pick up the phone and order a certain amount of each size fruit. Our Fair Trade contracts say that growers go into the orchard, pick fruit based on what’s ready to go, then pack and ship us whatever came off the tree. Unfortunately since we’re just days into the new crop a lot of the fruit is on the smaller size, so we expect to have an abundance of 20/22/24 and thinner volume on 12/14/16/18. We usually adjust pricing to make the higher volume sizes more attractive, hence expect to see special pricing on small sizes over the next 6 – 8 weeks while the crop sizes up. From what we hear, it will be another bumper crop, although, like last year, a few weather events can change all that. Also look for a new “Rebel” pack-out of ugly avocados starting today at a significant savings if people don’t give a crap how they look on the outside. We’re hoping this works. As it is, growers have about 1/3rd of their fruit rejected on the pack line and have to sell it for a fraction of export prices in the domestic market, so this would be a boon for them.
Blueberries – well, it is blueberry madness out there, and again the 5 and 10 pound boxes are the winners with consumers gorging and then freezing for future smoothie gorging. Growers have been very lucky this year – despite the gloomy, cool, showery weather the berries have been coming off just fine when the sky clears. Problems always arise when cool wet days blow open to hot and sunny weather and the berries can swell up and go soggy. This year cool wet days are blowing open to cool dry days and all is good.
Bananas – hate shorting bananas hate shorting bananas hate shorting bananas. New container in and being ripened as we speak. Importing has been a little hellish the last few months with ongoing examinations and inspections which create long receiving delays and supply gaps. We chose this path 7 years ago to work directly with small producers, and we have always been targeted with much higher levels of scrutiny by border agencies, but ever since the last big cocaine/banana container bust in Europe it has just gotten worse.
Cherries – We’re transitioning quickly into N. Okanagan cherries with Similkameen and Oliver/Osoyoos winding down extremely early. There won’t be many bargains in the cherry department this year with organic and conventional pricing staying high – mirroring pricing in Washington. Lousy weather over the last 3 weeks has cost the cherry industry in BC and Washington an estimated 2-3 million cases. Some growers have walked away from a lot of fruit that has been impacted by rain.
Grapes – this is that time of the summer when grapes become boring. It was really fun a couple of months ago before stone fruit and cherries and blueberries wasn’t it? We have the last of those amazing sapphire grapes on special and with the last of the Reds and Celebrations that will wind down our incredible Fair Trade grape run over the next 10 days or so. California is expecting good supply through the end of October and potentially further along than that.
Grapefruit – with some regions winding down, pricing has seen a jump of 8-15% over the last few days, depending on size. We’re back into new crop in Michoacan and expect solid supply for the balance of the calendar year.
Lemons – when will this stop? Blame drought and smaller harvest for lemon prices which continue to soar in this sellers’ market. Limes now appear to be a bargain in comparison.
Melons – Most supply is now coming from SoCal, with most Mexican vendors shutting down for the year. Expect prices to firm with production now past the peak in Imperial and Huron. Bakersfield has now started on mini’s and bins as well.
Mangos – An abundance of fruit as the Sinaloa season is still in play with Kent and Tommy. If you’re thinking – where is Sinaloa? Think Mazatlan if you’ve been to resorts in Mexico. Hope that helps.
That’s all for today on the fruit front!