UPDATE SUMMARY: WEEK OF FEBRUARY 24, 2022

February 24, 2022

Avocados

Tight supplies and elevated markets persist as Mexican growers work to refill the pipeline after last week’s avocado shipments were shutdown.

  • Ripe fruit will be limited through next week
  • Expect elevated prices for the next 10 days at a minimum

Basil

Three weeks ago, cool weather and high winds slowed plant maturity in Mexico’s growing regions. Mexican-grown basil stocks are projected to remain limited for the next 7 to 10 days.

East Coast herb suppliers have been experiencing their own basil supply issues over the past few weeks. Quality challenges has reduced yields as well as shelf-life, but quality has improved over the past week Volume is increasing daily; supply will meet demand by next week.

Bell Peppers

Prices continue to rise due to inclement weather; red bell peppers are especially snug. Markon First Crop (MFC) and Markon Essentials (ESS) Green and Red Bell Peppers are available; packer label is being substituted as needed.

Red Bells

  • Mexican growers are struggling to keep up with demand
    • Cool evenings are slowing the ripening process
    • Many growers are still rebounding from late January’s harvesting flush
    • Quality is good; choice grades are tight
  • Florida harvests only a small quantity of colored bells
  • Expect prices to remain high for the next two weeks

Green Bells

  • Mexican supplies are consistent out of the state Sinaloa; however, cooler temperatures in Sonora are reducing overall volume
    • All sizes and grades are available
    • Quality is good
  • Florida production is lighter due to past cold weather
    • Quality is good: wind scarring is being observed in some lots
    • Supply levels are forecast to fluctuate in the coming weeks
  • Expect prices to increase slightly

Carrots

California’s Imperial Valley carrot volume remains low due to cool weather; demand for jumbo-size stocks exceeds supply. Ready-Set-Serve and MFC Carrots are extremely limited; packer label is being substituted as needed.

  • Imperial Valley growers started harvesting earlier than normal this year due to heavy rainfall in December
    • Low temperatures continue to impact carrot growth
    • Jumbo-size stocks are scarce
  • Substitution options are available out of Arizona, Georgia, and Mexico (crossing into South Texas)
  • Carrot sticks remain snug (produced from jumbos)
  • Additional order lead-time is required (72 hours) due to the limited supplies and continued labor/workforce challenges due to COVID/Omicron
  • Expect tight California jumbo carrots through mid-March

Idaho Potatoes

Production will be affected by extremely cold weather this week. Expect loading delays to occur. Markets could rise if production schedules are significantly impacted.

  • Temperatures need to be 18 degrees F or higher for five to seven hours of the day to haul potatoes from cellars to packing sheds
  • If low temperatures persist, packing hours may be reduced (for example, from eight to four hours)
  • Growers do not ship potatoes to packing sheds when temperatures are below 18 degrees F to avoid freezing raw product
  • Loading delays are likely due to short production windows
  • Markets have eased recently with weak demand, but could see an increase for a week or so, if production schedules are significantly impacted

Iceberg and Romaine

Inconsistent weather patterns persist in the Arizona and California desert growing regions. Lettuce ice is anticipated through the rest of this week followed by a warming trend next week. Industry supplies of romaine remain limited; iceberg supplies are slowly tightening.

  • MFC Premium Romaine is sporadic; Markon Best Available (MBA) is being substituted as needed due to light weights
    • Quality is good: freeze-related blistering/peeling and fringe/internal burn are more prevalent than in prior weeks
    • Industry supplies of romaine are forecast to increase in two to three weeks, pending weather
    • Romaine markets will be elevated into early March at minimum
  • MFC Premium Iceberg is limited; MBA is being substituted as needed due to light weights
    • Quality is very good: epidermal blistering/peeling, growth crack, and sun scalding are occasional issues
    • Supplies are tightening
      • Low weights, small size, and fluctuating densities are affecting lots throughout the industry
      • Warmer weather in next week’s forecast and will help promote growth
    • Expect slightly higher prices through February

Light Lettuce Case Weights

Arizona/California desert iceberg case weights have fallen into the high 30s to mid-40 pound range. More low temperatures are forecast; Markon is projecting weight challenges through next week.

Current lettuce weight challenges are a result of:

  • Fluctuating internal density
  • Inconsistent head sizes
  • Trimming all heads before packing to minimize epidermal peeling and discoloration

Markon expects lettuce and leaf processors to begin struggling to obtain enough raw product each day due to reduced bin weights.

Markon inspectors will continue to monitor fields closely and update with the latest.

Light Rain in the Desert Region 

The Arizona/California desert region received light rainfall and parts of the region continued to see a light sprinkle this morning. Only about .10”-.15” total rainfall is expected. Field conditions are not excessively muddy, but Markon expects some minor delays. Harvesting crews are taking measures to keep boxes as clean and dry as possible.

Following today’s showers, the forecast calls morning low temperatures in the upper 20°s to mid-30°s Thursday, February 24 and Friday, February 25 with widespread lettuce ice expected.

Limes 

Supplies are extremely limited; prices continue to rise. This week and next week will mark the tightest two weeks of the year. Stocks will slowly begin to increase in March. High prices will persist through late March. MFC and ESS Limes are limited; packer label will be substituted as needed.

  • Mexican lime supplies (crossing into Arizona, California, and South Texas) are well below normal levels
    • Limited supplies of offshore limes are in the Canadian and U.S. marketplace due to the high prices out of Mexico
    • Stocks from countries such as Brazil, Colombia, Guatemala, Honduras, and Peru are more prevalent during this time
  • Processors who are juicing will source from all regions as needed to ensure a steady supply of lime juice; no shortages are expected at this time
  • Quality is fairly good: scarring, skin breakdown, and oil spotting are the primary concerns; Markon orders are being culled prior to shipping
  • The current crop is dominated by 150- and 175- count sizes; small sizes (230- and 250-count) will become more prevalent in March while larger sizes (110- and 150-count) will tighten
  • Expect higher prices over the next one to two weeks before the market peaks then begins to inch down in mid- to late March

Strawberries

Prices are easing in all regions; supplies have increased due to weak demand.

Oxnard, California

  • Sunny, rain-free weather is forecast for the next 10 days; cooler morning temperatures have slowed growth slightly
  • Quality is excellent: some scarring is being reported due to the strong Santa Ana winds
  • Berry size is medium (16-18 per 1-pound clamshell)

Santa Maria, California

  • Forecasts call for freezing overnight temperatures the week of February 21
  • Expect volume to drop next week as colder weather will inhibit growth
  • Fruit is large (12-14 per 1-pound clamshell)
  • Quality is good

Central Mexico (Loading in South Texas)

  • Production is steady; volume will continue increasing through February
  • Pack counts range from 17 to 21 berries
  • Quality is good: green shoulders are being seen occasionally

Florida

  • Warm weather has increased production
  • The season will reach its peak next week
  • Quality is good with occasional overripening due to higher temperatures
  • Pack counts range from 14-18 berries

Onions

Northwest storage supplies remain on pace to be depleted sooner than normal. Elevated prices will persist.

  • Idaho/Oregon MFC Onions will ship into April; supply typically runs into May
  • Utah MFC Onion stocks will be depleted in early to mid-March (similar to recent years)
  • Washington MFC Onions will begin to wind down in early April; supplies ordinarily run through May
  • Colorado storage onions will be depleted by the end of next week
  • Mexican onions (crossings into South Texas) remain limited; pricing is elevated
    • Rain is forecast for the Tampico growing area Thursday and Friday of this week
    • The Mexican market is strong, keeping many onions below the border
  • Texas-grown onions are on track to hit the market the week of March 9
  • California/Imperial Valley onions are slated to start shipping in mid-April
  • The New Mexico season will open in early June

Please contact your Markon customer service representative for more information.

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