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Fresh from the Field

This week’s fresh update

August  20, 2019 | Volume 6, Issue 32

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Conventional Vegetables

Availability on asparagus continues to be expensive and limited. Volume out of Mexico is down significantly year over year. Also, imports from Peru are slow due to the colder weather in Peru. The industry is hoping to see some relief in early September with good promotable windows in late September and October.
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With the local season in full swing in Canada and the Midwest, pepper availability is starting to become plentiful. Regional deals from coast to coast are able to fulfill local demand. Volume is plentiful and quality is strong; like all the veg items, we expect this situation to remain the same through the month of August. As usual during this time frame, things can change quickly due to the volatility of small/local growing deals. You can expect promotional volume available at least for the next 3-4 weeks.
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Celery supply is steady to start this week with some promotable volume available on a wide range of sizes. Quality reports show very nice product with good color, clean appearance and good condition. The weather forecast calls for stable temperatures with light winds over the next two weeks. Currently, Salinas and Santa Maria are the primary shipping locations for celery off the west coast.
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With the local season in full swing, cucumber availability remains plentiful. Regional deals from coast to coast are able to fulfill local demand. Volume is abundant; however, quality is a little inconsistent. We expect this situation to remain the same for the next week or two. As usual during this time frame, things can change quickly due to the volatility of small/local growing deals. You can expect promotional volume available for the next week or 10 days; long term and toward the end of the month, supply should start getting tighter.
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Iceberg Lettuce
Iceberg lettuce yields are lower overall and demand has increased with school business coming back into play this week. Steady but slightly lower supplies to start this week with some shippers limited. Quality reports are showing occasional long seedstem and few misshapen or wild heads. Overall, quality is currently good with normal weights, nice condition and appearance.
Romaine Lettuce
Lighter supplies again of Romaine this week with some growers still limiting harvest due to a small weather-related supply gap. Reports of seeder have subsided as most growers are slightly ahead of schedule and the product is on the younger side. Occasional reports of secondary growth and fringe burn but most growers are reporting nice quality.
Red & Green Leaf
Supplies of red and green leaf lettuces are stable with promotable volume available this week. Quality reports are showing good sizing, condition and overall quality. The weather forecast over the next 10 days calls for near-average temperatures and humidity. Santa Maria and Salinas are the primary shipping points for leaf and Iceberg lettuces off the west coast.
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Colored potatoes such as reds & yellow skin varieties are tightening up with most major growing areas cleaning up storage to include Eastern Canada, Northeast USA, Wisconsin/North Dakota, and Colorado. Pressure bruising is an issue as growers get to the bottom of the bunkers and six months’ worth of weight starts to manifest in black external spotting which leads to decay. Pack-outs in some areas are as low as 30%, particularly in yellow varieties. New crop will first appear in Florida, followed quickly by Texas and Arizona. California will start in mid-May. Prices will be high and very firm to start, but even as they settle down, this upcoming time period (Apr-Jul) has always seen the highest prices in the calendar year. Russet potatoes are still plentiful, particularly in Idaho where smaller sizes for bags and carton-count packs can be had at fair pricing. Larger carton counts (40-60 count) are still tight, particularly in the Pacific Northwest; expect steep pricing. Easter is the last true large-scale promotional opportunity for potatoes, after which consumer usage and sales slow through the summer. What stands a chance during the summer months are bite-size and fingerling potatoes which, due to the small size, make for excellent grilling or cold salad opportunities. These varieties won’t drive volume, but they make excellent complimentary cross-promotional items for grilled meat promotions or salad ingredient promotions.
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With the local season in full swing, squash availability remains steady. Regional deals from coast to coast are able to fulfill local demand. Volume is plentiful in both colors; however, quality is a little inconsistent. We expect this situation to remain the same for the next week or two. As usual during this time frame, things can change quickly due to the volatility of small/local growing deals. You can expect promotional volume available at least for the next week -10 days; long term and toward the end of the month, supply should start getting tighter.
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Volume is limited. Northern regions like Minnesota and Wisconsin will likely see a slightly later than normal start. Call your Robinson Fresh representative for more information.
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Conventional Fruits

Mexico
Hass Avocado Board reported just over 475 loads that crossed the border from Mexico last week versus the 550 loads the week prior (a 14% decline). Hass Avocado Board is projecting 825 loads of avocados from Mexico to cross into the U.S. this week. However, Mexico will likely continue sending less fruit than the projection due to the current unstable U.S. market and allow the volumes on hand to clean out some before increasing inbounds. The weather is expected to be in the mid-70s by day and the high-50s at night with thunderstorms most of the week. Transportation and storage temperatures on new crop flora loca avocados from Mexico must be maintained at 40-42 degrees Fahrenheit continuously to avoid customer claims and rejections for dark skin color and/or low firmness.
California
California came in with just over 105 loads harvested last week versus the 135 loads harvested the week prior (a 22% decline). Hass Avocado Board is reporting an estimated 90 loads to be harvested in California this week and the continued warm weather in California should push most growers to finish early this year. The California crop is expected to be nearly half of 2018 crop due to multiple factors including the fires and high heat waves that hit California during the summer of 2018. Transportation and storage temperatures on avocados from California must be maintained at 38–40 degrees Fahrenheit to avoid customer claims and rejections for dark skin color and/or low firmness.
Peru
Just over 185 loads arrived to the United States last week versus the 300 loads the week prior (a 38% decline). Hass Avocado Board is estimating just under 190 loads to arrive to the United States this week and volumes will continue decreasing each week as the season comes to an end. Sizing is heavy to 48s and larger. Transportation and storage temperatures on avocados from Peru must be maintained at 40–42 degrees Fahrenheit to avoid customer claims and rejections for dark skin color and/or low firmness.
Chile
New crop fruit is now being harvested. With the current unstable U.S. market, growers may be hesitant to send as much fruit to the U.S. as planned and search for better pricing in other markets.
Dominican Republic
Sporadic shipments are being made to the USA.
Colombia
Sporadic shipments are being made to the USA.
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Blueberries
Blueberries continue to tighten up in the Pacific Northwest. British Columbia fruit is a mix of both good quality varieties and fair quality varieties. We are starting to see a tiered market based on quality of product. Michigan quality is fair/good as well, a little better than British Columbia. Oregon quality is fair/good as well as they move towards the end of their season. Peruvian pints have arrived!! And we are less than a month away from Argentine conventional! Some Argentine organic are already arriving to the East Coast in limited supply. The major transition to imports will happen by the second or third week of September.
Blackberries
Blackberries continue to remain very tight supply until Mexico starts in about 2-3 weeks. Oregon/Washington continue to produce light volumes but, due to lighter demand, some farms have dropped their pricing. Supply remains mostly tight.
Raspberries
Raspberries are steady with production equaling supply out of Mexico.
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Supplies are picking up this week. We will see cantaloupes peak on J9s and 9s this week, mostly seeing production out of Mendota and Firebaugh areas of California. Athena melons are still very tight out of Indiana and Missouri with production remaining limited.
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Oranges
Valencias are in full swing. Supply is very limited on 113s and 138s. We are seeing some good deals out there as Chilean navels are plentiful in the West Coast market. First arrivals on import navels have been small and will likely continue to be that way for a while. Quality has been good on imports; however, there have been some reports of issues with the acid ratio.
Lemons
Desert lemons in Southern California are just about done. The fruit has a lower quality, grading more on the choice side due to scarring. Quality is decent and peaking on 115 count and larger choice. Lemon prices have stabilized as small Chilean imports keep coming in. We are now seeing good supplies of Mexican lemons show up in Texas. Import lemons in California are peaking on 140s and 165s.
Grapefruit
Quality out of California is improving, but has some occasional scarring. Internal and external color is nice with high brix. California has better supplies on red grapefruit with increasing volume daily, peaking on 36/40 count.
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As the California grape industry heads into late August, the first large varietal transitions on both red and green seedless are currently taking place. Many growers will finish packing Flames soon and transition to Scarlet Royals as their primary red seedless option. In regard to green seedless grapes, Sugraones are also winding down quickly and many growers are already packing Princess which will help to bridge the short gap until the more premium Pristine and Autumn King varieties are ready for harvest. While Summer Royals are now readily available for a black seedless option, Red Globes remain somewhat limited industry-wide as many growers have transitioned all seeded grapes out of production over the past few years. Overall, both quality and sizing have been excellent so far this season, with peak volumes on the largest varieties out of California set to be harvested within the next two months.
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Supplies of honeydew are snug mainly due to lighter plantings and yields. Previous years’ markets have contributed to lighter plantings in the San Joaquin Valley this year. Look for the market to remain mostly steady into next week.
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The lime growing regions are still experiencing high moisture, high temperatures, and rains. Lime quality continues to be an issue with a lot of stylar issues caused from the high moisture. Crossings continue to be high week over week, but markets continue to stay fairly high for this time of year due to high grade-out. Quality is expected to improve over the coming 2-3 weeks. Peak sizing is 30-40% 250 count, followed by 230 count. 110/150 count will be extremely tight.
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Southern Sinaloa will be finishing up this week for the season. We will receive the last loads by the end of this week. Weather permitting, Northern Sinaloa is expected to go through mid- September before they close for the 2019 season. Peak sizing is on 6 count and 7count with a few 8s per manifest. Sizing has shifted towards the larger sizes as we get into the tail end of the season. The market on small fruit has climbed due to limited availability. Cost of the fruit has been increasing at the field level and this has made the market strengthen since last week.
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Rain continues this week in the growing region of Colima, Mexico. Temps are in the high-60s in the mornings and mid-80s in the evenings. The rain has caused harvesting to become a challenge; we are seeing supply limitations due to this. Demand has also increased in the last two weeks. Sizing continues to peak on 9/12s with a few 8s per manifest. Overall quality has been good with no major issues to report. Overall demand is exceeding daily supply. The market has remained firm.
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California Bartlett, Bosc, and red pears are available and quality is excellent. Washington has started on Bartletts and D’Anjou and Bosc will start up in mid-September.
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Pineapple

Pineapple (Offshore)
Gustavo.Lora@robinsonfresh.com
The Intertropical Convergence Zone is active over Costa Rica, causing cloudy conditions and rain showers in the North and Caribbean areas with accumulated rain showers of up to 25mm in the last few days. Mild-intensity rains will continue with possible thunderstorms and rain showers of up to 50mm in 6-hour periods. Part of this cloudy coverage may be over the Pacific Central and south areas. A low-pressure system is organizing and growing in intensity in the South Pacific, giving high possibilities of strong rain showers covering both Costa Rica and Panama. This is expected to affect mostly the Pacific and Central areas, while bringing heavy rains to the North and Caribbean regions. Quality wise, depending on the strength and amount of these rain showers, we could expect to have water spotting issues in the internal conditions of the fruit, mostly for next week’s harvest. Transport and harvest logistics may also get complicated this week. Yields are improving but still not at good levels. LIMITED TO NO FRUIT FOR PROCESSORS CURRENTLY AVAILABLE AT OUR FARMS. The USDA crossing report shows week 32 with 540 inbound loads from Costa Rica for the entire continental USA. This is still a very low number for Costa Rica inbounds. The USDA is reporting demand exceeding supply and a higher market.

Pineapple (Mexican)
Jiovani.Guevara@robinsonfresh.com

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Older plants are producing less fruit and supplies are light for the newer crop fruit in Santa Maria which is causing some major shortages in volume with some shippers oversold or sold out. Quality in all shipping areas is just average for the older fruit, but the newer fruit in Santa Maria has nicer quality and larger sizing. Santa Maria, California is forecast for areas of low clouds, then sun, with highs in the 70s and lows in the 50s. Salinas/Watsonville, California is forecast for areas of low clouds, then sun, with highs in the 70s and lows in the 50s. Santa Maria fruit has occasional bruising, overripe, windburn, pin rot and decay. We are seeing average counts of 22 to 24, with some higher and lower counts. Salinas/Watsonville fruit has occasional bruising, overripe, white shoulder and seedy fruit with average counts of 22 to 24, occasionally higher and lower counts.
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Seedless supplies generally remain limited in all areas of the country. We continue to harvest in North Carolina, California, Tennessee, Delaware, and Indiana. We will see 36 count and 60 count seedless increase slightly in availability this week, but 45s will remain snug. Expect the seedless supply to remain limited and active for the rest of the domestic season.
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Organic Fruits & Vegetables

Supplies out of Washington are extremely low as most growers have cleaned up last year’s crop and are waiting for the new crop harvest to start. The new crop organic Galas have now started but there is very few of the larger 72-88 size that retailers prefer. The new crop Galas will size up starting next week as the season hits full stride. Import organics are available on the East Coast with mostly Galas, Red Delicious and Granny Smiths available.
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Organic Consolidation

Bob.Stone@chrobinson.com

While our warehouses are your centers for the organic team to take care of your consolidation needs, we would be remiss to mention that we also have at our facilities in Bethlehem and the Los Angeles area some great availability on the new crop apples out of South America. Call us about hot deals on Cripps Pinks, Granny Smiths, and Galas. All are available in tray packs and bags. However, one point to remember is that only the bag Galas are available out of the Los Angles Service Center in San Bernardino. All the tray packs are available only in our Bethlehem facility. These are some hot buys! Just call your organic team associate and, while lining up the apples, we can fill you in on our daily specials for this week’s hot deal items–dry vegetables out of the Salinas/Watsonville area! We can line these up for you FOB or consolidate at the Los Angeles Service Center.
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Organic Dry Vegetables

Bob.Stone@chrobinson.com

The mainstays of the dry vegetable category remain flush with supply and some of the best deals of the season. Green bell peppers, cucumbers, and zucchini from the Salinas Valley are producing in great numbers with low prices to go with that bounty. Call for the daily deals! Colored bells are also showing up in California; although, they are mostly reds. Mexico has started with red, yellow, and orange bells in limited numbers. And Baja, Mexico has started kicking in with many varieties of hot peppers and also some of the first decent supplies of mini sweet peppers we have seen in quite a while.
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We have limited organic minis available out of Central California. All fruit from our strategic organic melon grower base is done for the season.
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Organic Onions

Bob.Stone@chrobinson.com

Although there are still some Southern California Central Valley organic onions available, we are about to start some of the best onion growing regions, located in Nevada, the Northwest, and Hollister. The next few weeks, we will see the start-up of some of the country’s best organic onions. We have entered into partnerships with some excellent growers to give you the best product available. In fact, we have already locked in pricing through the end of the year on sacks of jumbo red and yellow onions along with locked-in pricing on 16 x 3 pound bagged red and yellow onions through the end of September. Be sure to contact your organic salesperson for all the details.
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California has started harvest on organic Bartletts. The crop in California is looking great, with lots of fruit available. Washington State has also started on organic Bartletts and quality looks great. Organic Bosc and D’Anjou will begin in mid-September out of Washington.
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Organic potatoes out of California have finished for the most part and now we are seeing supply coming out of the Northwest. Russets, red, and yellow potatoes are all available but pricing continues to remain strong. The quality has been very good to start and should continue to get better further into the year. Organic Fingerling potato season is about to start for us out of Colorado. This season, we will be offering up our Chef Blend, Russian Banana, French, Anya, and Buttercream varieties. We should start to have inventory at our warehouse in San Bernardino, California by the 26th or 27th of this month.
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Not much change. The next 5-6 weeks will continue to be a struggle since local supply is fairly inconsistent. Refrain from promotional activity on this item until Georgia starts in mid-September.
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Organic Sweet Potatoes

Chris.Lemmon@robinsonfresh.com

New crop organic sweet potatoes are starting. Growers have gone out to their early fields and started harvesting their Beauregards, reds, and white potatoes. With this, they are not getting many jumbos right now. They are peaking on mediums and #1s. The market is strong right now and we should see it remain this way for a few more weeks.
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Transportation

We are accepting freight opportunities from all geographic areas. Twenty-four hour lead time is preferred but all transactional last-minute opportunities are accepted.

David.Stramel@chrobinson.com
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Fresh from the kitchen

ASPARAGUS WITH MUSHROOMS

Ingredients

  • 3 oz Green Giant™ Fresh Asparagus
  • 1 Tbsp, plus 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup Green Giant™ Fresh Mini Sweet Peppers
  • 1 Tbsp, plus 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 cup Green Giant™ Fresh Baby Bella Mushrooms
  • 1 tsp crushed black pepper
  • 2 sprigs thyme
  • 2 tsp chives, chopped

… More at Asparagus with Mushrooms

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