UPDATE SUMMARY: WEEK OF MARCH 14, 2022

March 17, 2022

Bell Peppers

Prices are elevated due to weather, seasonal decline, and tight supplies. Markon First Crop (MFC) and Markon Essentials (ESS) Green and Red Bell Peppers are available; packer label is being substituted as needed.

Green Bells

  • Mexican supplies are tight due to cool evening temperatures and normal seasonal decline
    • All sizes and grades are available
    • Quality is mixed
  • Florida volume has fallen due to the early February freezing conditions which caused bloom drop
    • New fields primarily consist of jumbo sizes (with good quality), while older fields are producing smaller/average quality peppers
    • This past weekend’s cold weather might delay additional spring crops due to start this week
  • Expect prices to remain elevated in March

Red Bells

  • Mexican production is steady this week
    • Large and medium sizes are the most abundant
    • Supplies will tighten over the next few weeks as some growers are harvesting in advance to sell on the elevated green bell market
    • Quality is good
  • Florida harvests only a small quantity of colored bells
  • Canadian greenhouse harvesting has started with very low volume; deep color and high quality are being reported
  • Expect prices to fluctuate over the next two weeks

Carrots

Ready-Set-Serve (RSS) and MFC Carrots are limited; packer label is being substituted as needed. California jumbo carrot supplies are extremely limited.

  • Jumbo carrot volume is extremely low in the Imperial Valley (California’s primary growing region through late April)
    • Jumbo sizes, which are used for several value-added packs, will remain short until the crop transitions north to Bakersfield, California in late April
    • Commodity packs (25- and 50-pound poly bags and cartons) are in a demand-far-exceeds-supply situation
    • Carrot chunks, plugs, and sticks are also impacted as they are made from jumbo-size raw product
  • Packer label jumbo carrots out of Arizona, Georgia, and Mexico (crossing into South Texas) are being utilized to help fill the void
  • California growers and processors have a good supply of small- and medium-size carrots available; value-added packs such as baby peeled, coins, matchsticks, and shreds are meeting demand

Celery

Prices are elevated. The Arizona/California desert season is winding down, shifting demand to Oxnard and Santa Maria, California.

  • MFC Premium Celery is available
  • The Arizona/California desert season is winding down
    • Some growers have transitioned to Oxnard production exclusively
    • The desert season will be completed by the end of March
  • Supplies in many of the current fields are small and lightweight; some Oxnard and Santa Maria growers estimate production is 7 to 14 days behind schedule due to sustained cold weather
  • Florida yields are expected to fall over the next 7 to 10 days, before rebounding in late March and finishing strong in late April; quality is excellent
  • Salinas production will begin in early to mid-June
  • Markets are expected to remain elevated through March at minimum

Desert Insect Pressure Rising

The Arizona/California desert growing region has experienced volatile weather for over a month, causing both heat- and freeze-related quality challenges to develop. Insect pressure in particular has increased dramatically over the last week and has now become an industrywide concern for lettuce items. Although additional trimming of outer leaves can reduce insect counts, it is virtually impossible to eliminate them completely from commodity and some lightly processed lettuce packs at this time.

Effective immediately, Markon’s suppliers will be implementing the attached quality-alert flyers (English only) into the RSS items listed below in order to communicate the current insect concerns. A French and Spanish version is also attached for reference. The items that will temporarily carry the flyer include:

  • RSS Washed & Trimmed Romaine and Romaine Fillets 2/5#
  • RSS Washed & Trimmed Romaine Hearts 2/7.5#
  • RSS Washed & Trimmed Green Leaf and Green Leaf Fillets 2/5#
  • RSS Washed & Trimmed Deli Leaf 2/5#
  • RSS Washed & Trimmed Lettuce Jammers 1/5#

Markon inspectors are closely monitoring fields and finished RSS packs and working with suppliers to secure the best product available.

Green Leaf, Iceberg, and Romaine

Iceberg and romaine supplies remain extremely limited. Green leaf yields are lower than in recent weeks, although readily available. Demand is strong.

  • MFC Premium Green Leaf is available
    • Green leaf quality is above average with minimal defects
    • Insect pressure is an industrywide problem
  • MFC Premium Iceberg and Romaine are sporadic; Markon Best Available is being substituted as needed due to low weights
    • Below-normal weights and small head size are industrywide issues, particularly in iceberg crops
    • Romaine lots are being affected with varying levels of epidermal blistering and peeling; insect pressure has increased
  • Low volume will persist through the seasonal harvesting transitions in March and April
    • Huron production begins in mid- to late March
    • The Arizona/California desert season will end in late March to early April
    • The Salinas season is forecast to start in early to mid-April
  • Markets are anticipated to remain steady next week; expect elevated prices until the transition to the Salinas Valley is completed and industry volume normalizes

Limes

Large-size limes are further tightening; small supplies are increasing. Prices remain extremely high. MFC and ESS Limes are limited; packer label is being substituted as needed.

  • Growers are taking advantage of high prices by picking new crop fruit before it has time to grow in size
    • Very small sizes (250- and 275-count fruit) are becoming more prevalent; prices for these sizes are dropping
    • Medium to large sizes (110- through 200-count limes) remain in very short supply with slightly higher prices
  • Overall quality has improved with new crop limes coming onto the market; stylar is still a concern in some lots
  • Lime juice remains sufficient; juice processors are sourcing from all regions as needed to ensure steady supply
  • Volatile markets and limited Mexican supplies are expected to last into early to mid-April

Strawberries

Supplies are limited. Production is winding down in Mexico (into South Texas) and Florida; demand is strong. Expect elevated markets for the next 7-10 days

Mexico and Florida

  • Both seasons are ending; high temperatures are causing quality issues
  • Supplies remain available, but quality is suspect, with substandard quality berries being sold to local markets

Oxnard/Santa Maria, California

  • MFC Strawberries are available
  • Supplies are becoming limited
  • Demand has increased as the Florida and Mexican seasons are ending
  • Quality is good: green shoulders are being reported in some lots
  • Expect elevated markets for the next 7-10 days

Squash

Prices are rising. Supplies have tightened in Florida and Mexico; yellow squash is extremely limited. MFC Zucchini is available; yellow squash may be substituted in packer label.

  • Mexican volume is struggling as growers in the state Sinaloa transition away from older fields
    • Plant disease is a concern
    • Yellow squash is especially tight
    • Quality ranges from fair to good
    • Harvesting will start in Sonora over the next two weeks
  • Volume is lower than normal in the Immokalee and Homestead, Florida regions
    • Zucchini quality is good; yellow squash quality is fluctuating
    • New spring crops are anticipated to start in South Florida over the next 7-10 days
  • Expect elevated prices over the next two weeks

Tomatoes

Prices remain low as both Florida and Mexico have ample inventory. MFC Tomatoes are available.

  • Western Mexico has abundant stocks of all varieties including round, Roma, grape, and cherry
    • The Baja Peninsula is also providing light but consistent supplies of round tomatoes
    • Harvesting transitions to new spring growing areas will occur over the next two to three weeks
    • All sizes are available; large fruit (round 4×4 and 4×5) is expected to scale down this week
    • Grape tomatoes remain plentiful
    • Overall quality is very good with no major issues to report
  • Florida volume is slightly lower yet still meeting current demand
    • Mature green and Roma crops (currently extra-large and large fruit) will decrease in size over the next two weeks
    • Grape tomato harvesting is in the first pick stage
    • Quality is very good for all varieties
  • Growers in Northern Florida and South Carolina are assessing potential damage after freezing temperatures this past weekend
    • The June harvesting region of Quincy, Florida might require replanting or experience potential gaps
    • Upcoming weather will play a factor
  • Expect markets to increase slightly as April approaches

Please contact your Markon customer service representative for more information.

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