MARKET REPORT – NOV. 22ND 2017
Ya’ know…, you don’t get a bad book review if you don’t write a book.
Old saying. True. Sometimes I write market reports, relying on really solid information from growers, blended with the wisdom that comes with 30 years of involvement in this industry, and then a couple of days later I find that everything has changed, and what I said was just plain wrong. This creates a conundrum. I could fill a page with bland, nuanced lines highlighted with “could” “maybe” and “speculation has it”, but instead I choose to just throw it out there as it comes in. And it usually sticks.
Over the last couple of weeks I’ve said a few things that just didn’t pan out. Grapes was one – I basically dissed any future grape shipments, predicting the end of the California season, only to find vendors who still had product on the vine. I quoted the CA Strawberry Board about harvest volumes tripling and pricing declines to be expected. Wrong! Several days of spotty rain actually reduced harvests and pushed the price higher. And my biggest prediction was that we wouldn’t see any substantial change in higher than normal pricing on broccoli, cauliflower and other green veg because of reduced plantings after last year’s hair ball of a fall with prices well below production cost for a couple of months. Wrong again, especially wrong because I’ve said that at least 3 times over the past couple of months.
Warmer and wetter than normal weather across Salinas and Oxnard growing areas, which usually wind down mid-November are continuing to see good harvests. Conditions have been excellent for the last 2 months for an earlier than expected desert season by at least a week. So instead of high markets, we’re seeing the price on broccoli and cauliflower drop either a bit or a chunk every day, and a couple of times this week, twice a day, as well as on-going depressed prices on lettuce, kale and chard. Now, to my credit, I have said that prices usually go wonky in US Thanksgiving week, because it is such a huge pull for the industry. Pretty well all the green veg that is going to get eaten this week in the U.S. has now shipped from California, and growers are now adding up their un-sold acres to see how they fared and then adjusting pricing accordingly, especially going into a low sales week, competing with a hundred million refrigerators packed with leftovers. So……….maybe my long term prediction for high markets will pan out, but we’re just going to see some lower pricing for a few weeks, or not, but I did write the book, and am giving myself a bad review.
In other news, the fruit market is, generally speaking, very stable. Yes there apparently is some late grape harvests. Berries are very tight, and the go to this week may be raspberries, where pricing hasn’t moved much for months. We are past the peak of harvests on persimmons, so expect those for just a few more weeks. With better and better long-term storage opportunities, look for the pomegranate market to extend out longer and longer each year, and likely the introduction of Peruvian pomegranate this year or next. “Grenada” is a common fruit in Peru, although colouring is different than California Pomegranate and we’ve heard rumours of some smarty-pants getting some organic production going. (We tried this a few years ago down there – grew fine but looked very C grade.)
On the veg side, you can definitely expect relief on a wide range on Friday’s lists, with some adjustments today. As mentioned above, while warm and sometimes wet weather has done some harm to winter strawberries, it’s done wonders for a broad range of greens coming out of Oxnard, Ventura, and Salinas. Celery will be the outlier, as supplies dwindled substantially as turkeys get stuffed this week across America, and desert production likely won’t amp up until well into December.
Mushrooms have been an issue recently, with a big production drop at All Seasons – technical, something do with compost, and straw being different variety and taking longer to break down and then there’s some maintenance schedules issues etc. Production expected to be back in full this week.
While LE and slicer cukes, and zucchini, have been in the basement for a few weeks, bell pepper and tomato pricing continues to hold high. Mexican growers dealing through brokers at the border are lucky at this point to get back the cost of boxes and freight with so much supply and zip for the product. We hoped this wasn’t going to happen after last year produced the worst results in “like forever” for many growers we know well, but as we know it seems to be feast or famine in shade-house production, and for every box of zucchini that is getting tossed, there are ample rewards with high prices on cherry tomatoes and bells.