MARKET REPORT – MAY 6TH, 2016
We are reminded, once again, of our changing climate
With this week’s on-going disaster in Fort McMurray we are reminded, once again, of our changing climate. Earlier this week it was announced that April was not only the warmest April ever on record, from San Francisco north to Alaska, it was also warmer than the warmest ever May – so basically spring was not only record-busting, it was a month ahead of schedule – which may explain a brutally early start to the forest fire season in the Boreal forests.
Changing weather has also had a few other impacts recently. It is raining today in Watsonville – something it seems to do every five days or so – which is the same cycle as strawberry harvests. Pink and red fruit on the vine gets soggy on the skin and can only be picked for processing. New blooms are damaged, leaving just the white berries on the vine available for harvest a few days later – just in time for the next drizzle. Then the cycle repeats, and this has been going on for a month – explaining higher prices, limited availability, cancelled ads and all on the eve of Mother’s Day. We’re hearing of some improvements for next week, keeping fingers crossed and prices have already dropped. At the same time, increased humidity along the coast, where most of California’s production is within 15 miles of the ocean, has spread mold and fungus through crop after crop – spinach, romaine, napa and broccoli are a few that are in short supply, or being quality affected and of course the ongoing battle for salad mix.
This is also transition time for many late-producing crops, long finished in the desert and nowhere near ready along the Coast (celery, parsley and a few others.) So expect higher pricing on a few things today.
For another bizarre twist of fate, there is something wrong with black kale. The major supplier to some of the biggest seed houses serving organic growers had an unknown issue that has caused early plantings of black kale to bolt (go to seed,) which would normally happen next February – this is causing havoc for growers all across the U.S. and potentially here later in the season as our kale plants start to reach harvesting stage – we won’t know until then.
Now, on the good news front, we have an excellent selection of Fair Trade products, just in time for Fair Trade Month – including new arrivals on table grapes from Divine Flavor, and an increasing selection of melons.
And the other good news, I suppose, is the fast growth of ground-crops across B.C. Please note that selection is a little limited, so expect to be disappointed, then happy if you are lucky – but still, we do have a selection of lettuce, salad and other greens from Fraser Valley growers – and also about 3 weeks ahead of schedule. We can remember back just 4 years when a cold, wet spring delayed production of these early greens to late June – so here we are 6 weeks early!
Now here’s another quirk – with warm/hot weather predicted in southern BC for the next 2 weeks, with temperatures in the Similkameen and South Okanagan forecast to stay above 25C, we are getting word from growers of a possible cherry harvest date of May 28th. Last year was June 4. Looking back 6 years ago, our first day we listed cherries was June 28th, and 10 years ago early July.
Apple markets are fluctuating as more volumes of Gala flow in from Argentina, but with other varieties just starting to arrive, remaining Washington Granny, Golds and even Reds are maintaining high prices.
Lemons – sigh – there just isn’t enough and prices continue to escalate, especially on premium fruit. No relief on limes, nor any expectation, with poor flowering earlier in the year, along with some hail damage.
The rest of the fruit category is very stable.
Veg – Very briefly – already mentioned above of market and growing conditions affecting quite a few crops. Early bunch carrots from a few growers is going to ease the price pressure on table packouts.
We are maintaining give-away pricing on zucchini, cucumber, and the entire tomato category – deals to be had on all SKU’s.
Roots are stable – we are still receiving great supply on Canadian storage yellow, red and russets, plus a great smattering of beautiful fingerlings from multiple growers in Northern BC and Alberta.