UPDATE: North American Iceberg Lettuce Supply
December 31, 2015
Iceberg lettuce supplies have increased slightly over the past two weeks due to weaker demand following the holidays and last week’s warmer temperatures in the Arizona/California desert growing regions. However, the reprieve from limited supplies and elevated prices will be short-lived as 2016 approaches. Low volume, strong processor demand, high New Year’s retail demand, and mild Northeast weather will all contribute to rising markets for the next four weeks.
- During the winter months, there are three main growing regions that supply the bulk of iceberg demand in the U.S., Canada, and Pacific Rim
- Each of these growing regions has had abnormal growing conditions over the past few months
- Industry-wide shortages will occur through January
Arizona/California growing region
- Persistent freezes during the month of December have reduced supplies and lowered yields per acre
- Markon inspectors and grower partners have been reviewing upcoming fields and predict a supply gap by mid-January
- Pounds-per-acre yields are below normal, forcing processors to harvest fields that have not reached full maturity
- Cold temperatures are also affecting the Mexican lettuce and leafy greens growing regions
- Pounds-per-acre yields are low and supply levels are not sufficient to cover the demands of processors both regionally and on the West Coast
- Florida is a large supplier of iceberg and romaine for regional processors in the Midwest and on the East Coast during the winter months
- Above-average rainfall, followed by warmer than normal temperatures, have caused iceberg heads to become puffy with high percentages of seeders
- One major grower for iceberg bins has forecast a 40% decline in available stocks through mid-January
- Supply shortages for processors in the Midwest and on the East Coast will force processors to buy from other growing regions, increasing pressure on an already depleted raw product supply and pushing up markets
Markon predicts open-market prices to climb even higher during January, possibly into February. These conditions will increase the value-added markets for Ready-Set-Serve shreds, salads, and blends as well.
Please contact your Markon customer service representative for more information.
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