MARKET REPORT – MAR 16TH, 2016 – HERE’S A FAST MID-WEEK UPDATE!
Here’ a fast mid-week update!
Apple supply continues to shrink and prices continue to rise as fruit becomes more and more scarce. And of course only the fanciest grades are allowed to be shipped into Canada, so if there are deals it’s on Fancy and lower grades, and those stay south of the line.
We haven’t got damage reports yet from the giant hailstorm that hit avocado regions in Michoacan but will keep you informed. We’re not worried about supply from our growers because they produce far more fruit than they sell to us and Equal Exchange in the US as Fair Trade – the rest being sold as regular organic fruit, so because of our higher pricing and social premiums we are a preferred customer even if there’s less fruit around.
Citrus is a hurtin’ category right now with most growers not able to harvest. It has rained 7 of the last 14 days in the Central Valley and as we let you know in Ursula’s Hot Shots report on Sunday, and my Market Report on Friday, citrus can’t be harvested in the rain, or when it’s wet, or just after it’s rained. Right now we are only buying from Sundance, who are just north of San Diego and in a totally different district. Spot pricing is high, so when you see jumps, that’s the direct result of supply and demand being out of whack substantially. This market will return to normal in 10 days with little rain in the long term forecast and fruit starts flowing into sheds again.
Little change across the rest of the fruit deal – berries are highlighted now with straw prices back to seasonal levels, and with most of those SoCal districts missing the rain as well.
Banana supply is good, and all from BOS although we will be featuring a new Ecuador coop in a few weeks. Back in 2009 we were instrumental in the first shipments of bananas directly from small coops without going through multinationals. At about the same time, Equal Exchange, one of the primary leaders in the Fair Trade world, were doing the same with another coop in Peru, and one in Ecuador, and it is that same Ecuadorian coop we will start working with.
On that roller-coaster of greens pricing, we are now starting to see markets up-tick. The minute I quit predicting when this was going to happen, it seems to have happened. This is the beginning of what is going to be an incredibly sloppy transition from the desert to the coast of California over the next 4 – 6 weeks, depending on commodity, with many desert shippers “done” on many products now that they finished cleaning field and dumping surplus product into the marketplace. We’re seeing increases of 20-30%, not across the board, but on the first crops to finish – things like broccolini and bok choy and a few others – but this should be a precursor to markets starting to recover to a point where growers can start making back some of their huge losses over the last few weeks, when they were forced to sell well below cost, and had to keep on harvesting to keep their labour crews working instead of vanishing. Look for a report in the next 10 days as I get more info, on the impacts of both drought and labour shortages on this year’s upcoming harvests in California.
Oh, and what is Raab you ask? Raab is very similar to Broccolini – in fact virtually the same – they are sprouting small broccoli stems. Every brassica (cauli, cabbage, collards, kale etc,) in this area “bolts” in the spring. You leave those plants in the field over the winter, and they bring on a small flush of new growth, then they grow up into a flower, and those flower stalks look, act, taste and feel just like Raab or Broccolini, and clever growers harvest these sweet nutritious stalks and market them as Raab, no matter which brassica in the family they have come from. So you will see listings on this for a few weeks – after that the stalk all start to produce yellow flowers and the game is over. It’s kind of funny that we all reject broccoli that is starting to turn a little yellow, but all love broccolini and raab which is at it’s best just before those yellowing buds open into flowers. Such is produce.
Chard does the same thing – produces a spring flush before it goes to seed – although no one wants the flower stalks, they do want the chard – so you will also see listings for local kale, collards and chard right now – no, this isn’t a spring planted crop coming on 3 months early – this is that spring flush on last year’s plants – but it’s still cool to have a splash of local kale, collards and chard this time of year.
Just as potato pricing started to climb over the past few weeks as Fraserland and Across the Creek started to wind down, you will now see onion pricing hike up as the Washington storage season starts to tighten up, well before the first early sweets come out of the desert. Just an FYI.
And……we expect some turbulence in the zucchini, cuke and tomato markets as harvest volumes are varying substantially from one grower to another, so just keep your eye on that one too.