MARKET REPORT – NOV. 30TH, 2018
Let’s just fly through the list and see what makes the news!
Speaking of flying – Chile is delayed again on blueberries as growers still recover from hail shatter a couple of weeks ago at least in the region where ours come from. Expect first arrival around the 9th or so. We’ve been relying on Argentina for the last 6 weeks and that continues for another 10 days. Except we can’t get any. Why? The dumbest of reasons. There is a G20 summit in Argentina this week. When the King of Saudi Arabia, the child from the US, dictators from Russia and elsewhere hob-nob for a week and get nothing accomplished except a nice break from the news cycle – that’s the G20, and because there’s so many important people in one place, air space is restricted and air freight shipments are cancelled, in case terrorists ……………
Grapes – we’re down to the very end of the grape cycle, which extends a little bit longer every year with new varieties intended to stretch, and increasingly better storage techniques. We’ll see how close we get to Christmas on these last flushes.
Soil temperature? Vegetable plants get their growth cues from the soil, not the sun. Biological activity from micro-organisms feed nutrients to plants. The warmer the soil, the more activity. When soil temperatures drop, plant growth slows. When the mean daily temperature falls to 20C below normal, this means the soil is cooling quickly as well. There will be few bargains on melons for the next couple of weeks with the season in Sonora still just ramping up in combination with cool temperatures. Average daily low/high in the growing belt hugging the Sea of Cortes, from Guaymas south to Culiacan would be 15C at night and 35C+ during the day. Presently that range has been 8C and 22C, and expected to stay cool for another week. That all equals slow growth limiting supply.
Here is another issue. This time last year the Canadian $ was trading at a 1.26 level with the USD. Then it got better in the early spring, climbed, dropped again to X 1.26 but since has been on a race to the basement, currently trading at X 1.33 – which is an increase of 6+%. Coupled with tragically high prices across a swath of vegetable production, that extra year over year currency difference does not help. This drop has been virtually entirely based on the price of oil.
What the hell happened to strawberries? The primary production zone is Watsonville. Growers there don’t harvest the last of the sporadic berries, they have long since ripped up their fields, laid new beds and planted next year’s plants. The next location that opens up is Santa Maria, which it just did, and after 3 days of substantial rain, there are slim pickin’s and a sellers’ market in the only area in production.
About 1/2 of the way from L.A. to Santa Barbara (see map) you would find John Givens Farm (Something Good). We’ve been dealing with John and Dana there for 15 years. A great over-winter production area and always great quality – our favourites? : dandelion and fennel.
And time to talk about lettuce: A few growers in the desert haven’t started shipping yet for the year (Sue Heger etc.), and it’s been cold in the desert – up to 10C below average, both night and day, which means soil temps are well below normal, so everything grows slowly. And to top it off, it friggin’ rained – not that much out in the desert, but certainly in other regions, including Oxnard, which is a fairly large region, although smaller than the desert areas. For reference, Oxnard is about ¼ of the way from L.A. to Santa Barbara (see map). So it’s the same deal as strawberries – cold and rain, and lettuce is NOT harvested when wet – it has to be bone dry or it has no legs. Wait, there’s more – rumblings in the industry are that after a shite year last year (too much production – buyer’s markets – low returns etc.) many growers have planned less production this year to balance to the market. Add those together and you have uber-high lettuce prices – and although warmer weather will bring some relief, rumours are that you can expect high lettuce markets (and other greens) into 2019 perhaps. Broccoli is the only commodity with prices that have now peaked and will drop shortly with so many fields opening up for the first time, and broccoli is less affected by cold and rain than any other.
Romaine, now that it’s good to go for most growing areas of California a lot of product sat in the field for an extra 6 days before the public health warnings were cancelled, so now there is much more of it, and slightly lower prices. We won’t have Ecocampos Romaine for the next 6 days. With the warnings in place when we were loading in Mexico, we decided to leave our Romaine in the field to size up for an extra week, not knowing how Act 2 would pan out. Good pricing in Iceberg – how would an Iceberg Caesar salad look?
And one last fling at soil temps – expect high markets for tomato, cucumber and zucchini coming out of Sonora to maintain at current levels, (same scene as previously discussed melons ) which for some items is on the high side – just don’t expect any bargains before the holidays!
All for now…………..