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Fresh from the Field

This week’s fresh update

September 14, 2021 | Volume 8, Issue 37

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Conventional Vegetables

Asparagus

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The Asparagus market has been challenging for a few weeks, to say the least. The market should settle out in roughly 2 weeks. Until then, be careful on any commitments. Volume has yet to peak and import transportation (boats and air) has been and will continue to be challenging. October should bring opportunities to move more volume. If you need ad pricing for October, please ask. We can always get more volume based on your activity.
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Bell Peppers

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Pepper condition is not getting better, as supply continues to be short. Markets are changing daily, and the relief won’t come until Georgia starts by the middle/end of October. California’s market has reacted as demand has picked up. As we look ahead to the Florida season, there will be less pepper being planted (growers are cutting back due to the high cost of growing in Florida, and growers leaving the industry). Please stay away from any promotions until we get to Georgia.
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Northeast and Canada production is in full swing with good quality and volumes. California is producing excellent product as well. Mexican production is light as is normal for this time of year; quality seems to be okay, with little to no occurrences of the quality issues we normally see this time of year.
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Steady supplies are available out of Michigan and Wisconsin. Quality is excellent!
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Celery supplies in Santa Maria and the Salinas Valley are steady with promotable volume available. Quality reports are showing very good quality with no major issues reported. The weather forecast calls for average temperatures with cloud cover this week. Please reach out to your Robinson Fresh representative for updates and information regarding promotable volume availability.
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Cucumbers

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Cucumbers continue to be extremely short. As previously stated, no major volume anywhere and we don’t expect any relief until early/middle of October. We are just not seeing the anticipated yields from North Carolina. Michigan and Canada are practically done for the season. Please stay away from any promotions.
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Local turnip and mustard supplies have recovered, and all SKUs now have good quality and supply. Look for the Georgia season to start on or about October 1st. We have not had any weather related or planting issues in Georgia so, as of now, we are looking at steady supplies and good quality through the fall, weather permitting.
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Leaf Lettuce

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Iceberg and leaf lettuces are seeing lighter supplies this week due to soil-borne issues negatively impacting yield. The weather forecast calls for slightly cooler temperatures. Overall quality is good with some reports of mildew pressure and insect damage in both areas, with the primary shipping points on the West Coast in Santa Maria and Salinas. Please reach out to your Robinson Fresh representative for any additional information and promotional opportunities.
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Currently loading out of Idaho and Washington. Very limited production out of both locations during this time of the year. There is limited availability on Burbs out of Idaho and Washington. Now is the time to start working on promotions for the remainder of the month. Please contact your sales representative with any questions.
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Availability seems to be settling down, as Georgia and North Carolina are still not hitting their volume. Michigan’s season is wrapping up sooner than expected, and the Northeast is not producing the estimated volume from their fall crop. Weather permitting, we still expect to see better volume in the upcoming weeks. We do know that some growers lost some acreage due to the excessive rains in Georgia.
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Northern farms will start tapering off volume as cooler weather moves in. Georgia will start around the first of October. Volume will be light until then.
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Conventional Fruits

The apple market remains firm this week as demand remains good. We expect this tight and higher priced market to remain this way for the next several weeks as inventories are less than last year at this time. The tightest items are the Granny Smith, Golden Delicious, Red Delicious and large Galas. The varieties that are the best value right now are the small Fuji and the Ambrosia apples. The import apples from Chile have all arrived now and will be cleaning up over the next week; soon, they will no longer be a factor in the market as the new crop gets going domestically. New crop Galas, Honeycrisp, Grannies and early Gold Delicious have now started in Washington and another round of varieties will start up over the next couple of weeks. It is too early to predict the size of the new crop but the impact of the heat wave in Washington will certainly be a negative on the crop. We will keep you updated as more accurate information is provided. Expectations at this point are for a crop similar to last season or less but it is still very early to get any accurate reads on the size and condition of the new crop.
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Mexico’s avocado size curve is shifting, and more large sizes are becoming available while small sizes become less available. Availability of California and Peruvian avocados is decreasing, and the supply will soon be more reliant on Mexico’s production. There’s rain in Mexico’s weather forecast all week which may limit production this week.
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Bush Berries

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Blueberries
Supply will stay tight this week. Volumes continue to fall domestically as Oregon/British Columbia/Michigan continue to get closer to the end of their seasons. Peru and Argentina are bringing fruit up but there have been delays due to COVID restrictions at the ports and airports. Expect this market to continue to slowly climb now through September, with Argentina/Peru peaking on volume heading into late October (market drop after that).
Blackberries
Supply is available in California, less in Mexico (Texas). Mexico new crop is starting slowly with more volume expected by next week.
Raspberries
Less supply this week due to weather in Mexico. Heavy rain hit Colima and western Michoacan (raspberry areas), so less available this week.
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Cantaloupe

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Cantaloupe production remains steady and is expected to stay steady through September. Demand is keeping up with the production. Sizing is mostly Jumbo 9s/9 count with good volume on 12 count as well. Very few 15 count available. Quality and sugar remain good.
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Oranges
California navels are done for the season. Chilean navels have been reporting strong quality all season so far, peaking on 56/64/72s. In the coming weeks, expect prices to settle in as more and more containers arrive on the West Coast, provided ports stop having delay issues. There have been reports of a lot of vessels being stuck at port for up to a few weeks causing a lot of supply issues. This is forcing shippers to repack after they receive product to make sure it is clean. 56 count and larger are a bit tight. California Valencias are in full swing and pricing is now starting to increase a bit across the board, but mainly on 88s and smaller. Peaking on 72s/88s. Fruit is firm and eating well. Expect crop yield to be smaller this year. 113s/138s will be very tight all season long.
Lemons
California lemons are coming out of District 2, but the crop is mainly choice fruit, with very little fancy fruit. California lemon quality is improving compared to the last few weeks. Mexico was delayed due to damage to fruit from the massive storm that hit Mexico/Texas back in February. We are seeing more and more shippers with lemons loading in Texas, but supply is on the lighter side at the moment, peaking on 140s/165s. Chilean lemons are peaking on 140s/165s as well. Argentinian and Chilean quality have been strong all season. We have seen some blowers here and there as there have been some delays at ports, but most shippers are saying they are focusing on repacking those containers that experienced delays. Dozens of containers are sitting on vessels waiting to unload so supplies are drying up.
Grapefruit
The overall market has remained pretty steady. Supplies are keeping up with demand at this point. Quality is excellent with no issues being reported at this time. We have transitioned into the Marsh Ruby variety, peaking on 36/40/48s. Large size pricing has remained steady for the last month with very little movement. Small sizes are where the deals are.
Mandarins
Mandarins are very tight. Quality and brix have been pretty good, but we hear they are not eating great right now. California is done now. Mandarins have been delayed at ports as well causing some supply issues. Expect this issue to continue for the near future.
^ Back to Conventional Fruits

September is here and with that we are into our peak season with quality, volume, and varietal offerings across the grapevine. This season, we have experienced cluster volume with certain varieties and colors coming off the vines at once. Early season it was green seedless. Today and looking ahead, we will see the push from the vineyards on all our red seedless varieties for opportunistic value and volumes. We want to help support additional growth in September and October in any way with red seedless, but not limited to red seedless as we will have great product across our full grape category. Don’t forget about specialty packs and varieties like Candy Hearts, Candy Dream, Kissy Pops, Sweet Carnivals and more! We are into top notch organic grapes right now with Scarlet Royal, Stella Bella, and Pristine varieties. Coming up…Welch’s Happy Healthy Halloween promotional ads!
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Honeydew are extremely tight in California and are expected to stay that way throughout the rest of the California season. Demand is exceeding supply at this point. Sizing has been an even split between 5/6 counts followed by jumbo 5 count, although limited supplies. Sizing is peaking on 8 count. Quality and sugar have been good with some scarring present.
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Region: Veracruz, Mexico
Currently, the crop is peaking on 200/230/175s. The weather forecast is showing rain all week. The demand for limes has been moderate. According to the USDA, the crossings through Texas from last week were at 513; as of Monday, the report is showing 108 crossings from the weekend. Sizing profile is peaking on sizes 200/230/175. Size distribution is as follows: 110-6%, 150-10%, 175-19%, 200-21%, 230-22%, and 250-22%. Quality issues being reported: decay, light color, and short shelf life. Expect to see these quality concerns for the next few weeks. Looking ahead, we expect a little decrease in the available fruit for October; however, quality could improve a little.
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Brazilian fruit has been coming in with all sizes; containers on the water have a spread mostly between sizes 6 through 12. The next set of shipments will start to see a peak between 9/10s, with few 12s and 8s. Northern Sinaloa has started to harvest Keitt mangos and peak sizes on current manifests are mainly 5s, followed by 4s and minimal of other sizes. We expect to see more 6 count on the next harvest but the majority of this variety will stay close to 5 count. Demand has been slow in the Northeast for Brazilian fruit. Market prices for 6/7/8s have started to increase since last week.
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Historically, we have seen volume increases from May to July. This year, we noticed that this volume got pushed back to the last couple weeks of May. Now, we have plenty of supply and this will continue all the way through mid-August. Warmer weather has been helping the growers to harvest more fruit at farm level so we’re noticing more availability in the market. Supplies have been good and will continue to be for the next two months. Shippers are now offering extra papaya, mostly pallet quantity for now, but close for that availability to become load volume.
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We have new crop Bartletts, Bosc, and red pears shipping out of Washington State this week. The crop in Washington is looking a little smaller in volume this year and the fruit will run one to two sizes smaller than last season. Overall, there will be plenty of fruit to promote and advertise.
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Pineapple

Pineapple (Offshore)

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The proximity of the Intertropical Convergence Zone to Costa Rica is creating an unstable environment with downpours and electrical storms in the northern region of the country. Morning rains and heavy downpours with thunderstorms will continue in the North Caribbean, North and North Pacific regions. Weather conditions will remain similar for the rest of the week. Quality is reported as good but internal condition and biological age has been affected, causing an earlier maturity of the fruit, forcing growers to harvest before expected. We will continue monitoring this week’s weather to see how it could affect the internal condition of the fruit and if the change of biological age stabilizes. USDA crossing report for week 35 again is higher at over 1,200 loads of pineapples crossing for the entire continental USA. USDA is reporting demand as moderate to light and market as lower. Delays at ports of arrival continue out of Texas and keep getting worse due to lack of equipment, trucks, and drivers.

Pineapple (Mexican)

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Main growing regions in Mexico are Veracruz, Tabasco, and Colima and most fruit crosses through border entries in Texas and Arizona. Demand is slow on all sizes with more supplies arriving from both Mexico and Costa Rica. Mexico is officially over their summer gap and new crop fruit has started to arrive. Markets are stable as we see higher volumes arriving. We currently have GOOD supplies of our fruit from Mexico and quality is reported as very good, with brix over 13%. Most shippers are peaking on 6 and 7 counts, but all sizes are available in the market. Please contact your Robinson Fresh sales representative with any questions and to discuss promotional planning.
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Strawberries

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With the growing areas in Salinas/Watsonville past the peak of production, the yields are significantly lower and there is limited availability. Labor issues are also contributing to the limited availability. Receivers may see more quality issues on arrival, especially with older crop fruit due to the warmer summer weather patterns. Santa Maria fall crop fruit volumes are increasing. Santa Maria, California is forecast for partly sunny skies Wednesday and Thursday, becoming sunny Friday, and mostly sunny skies for the weekend. Highs are expected in the 70s and lows in the 50s. Salinas/Watsonville, California is forecast for partly sunny skies Wednesday, becoming sunny and cool on Thursday, and then mostly sunny skies for the balance of the week. Highs are forecast in the 60s, increasing to the 70s for the weekend, and lows in the 50s. Santa Maria, California new crop fruit has good color and size, while the old crop fruit has bruising, dark color, soft shoulders, and is overripe with much smaller fruit.
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Watermelon

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Supplies on seedless and minis are winding down on the East Coast. We expect Indiana to wrap up by the end of the month, but know they are already past their peak for the season. Delaware and Maryland will have seedless available for another week, and then supplies will transition back down to South Carolina. Look for the northern Florida fall crop of seedless to start the first week or so of October. We continue to harvest out of Wapato, Washington on both seedless and minis. We expect that season to wrap up over the course of the next week or so. We started new fields out of Walnut Grove on seedless and minis and expect to continue harvest there until mid-October.
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Organic Fruits & Vegetables

Organic Apples

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We are now shipping new crop organic Honeycrisp, organic Galas, and organic Fuji apples. So far, the quality is good on all these new crop varieties. We will start up with new crop Granny Smith early next week out of Washington State. Expect the pricing to be extremely high due to the high demand and low volumes that will be available in the early weeks. Prices should moderate as we progress through the season. Expect to see the new crop Pink Ladies to start around October 10th, as this variety is one of the last to be harvested each season.
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Organic Dry Vegetables

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Nogales, Arizona
Good supply on XL/jumbo bin butternut for processing with promotional opportunities. Steady volume on English cucumber 12 count with promotional opportunities. Colored bells (red/yellow/orange) XL and choice available with good volume.
Texas Valley
Colored bell peppers (red/yellow/orange) 11 and 25 pounds available with limited volumes. Steady volume on English cucumber 12 count with promotional opportunities. Organic soft squash (zucchini and yellow), 12/1-pound mini-sweet peppers and grape tomatoes all available with limited volumes in the Texas Valley.
San Diego, California
Colored bell peppers (red/yellow/orange) 11 and 25 pounds, mini-sweet peppers 12/1-pound, slicer cucumbers, zucchini, and grape and Roma tomatoes all have limited volumes but some availability.
Bakersfield, California
Butternut squash, colored 11-pound bells, 12/1-pound mini sweet peppers all available in good volume with promotional opportunities.
Salinas, California
Green bells, jalapenos, eggplant, medium zucchini, and Heirloom tomatoes all available with steady supply. Fancy zucchini and yellow squash are very limited out of Salinas.
Virginia
Yellow squash, zucchini, and green bells are all available in very limited supplies. No quality issues to speak of in any region.
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Organic Melons

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California fields are back into regular volume with new fields breaking the end of this week. Sizing will remain mostly 6 count with a few 8 count and 11 count once we get into the new fields.
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Organic Onions

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We continue to be gapping on our jumbo red onions. We do have a few mediums available for the next week or so. The next field will be ready for shipping the first week of October. There are other onions available, and the market is good.
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Organic Pears

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We are now shipping the new crop of organic Bartletts out of Washington. The new crop of organic pears seems to be running a little smaller than last year’s crop which should provide a lot of bagging fruit and a little less of the large fruit. Most growers feel that this is a result of the extended heat wave that hit the Northwest region during the summer months. Overall, the crop still looks good and there should be plenty of fruit to get into December. Organic Anjous will be available in another 2 weeks or so.
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Organic Potatoes

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As we get closer to fall, our potato season is changing. We are seeing potatoes starting out of Colorado, along with supply out of Washington and Oregon. This is early for Colorado potatoes but the quality on the Russets and yellows is good. Red potatoes started this week as well out of Colorado and the first available look good. Our fingerling program is still on target to start the second week of October.
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Organic Squash

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Our Hollister squash program is now in full swing. We have butternut, spaghetti, acorn, Delicata, and Kabocha squash available for shipping. The sizing and quality are perfect! They are packed up in 35# cartons and palletized at 56 per pallet.
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Organic Sweet Potatoes

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Sweet potatoes have now transitioned to all new crop. There is still some difficulty finding jumbo size sweet potatoes right now, but you can get mediums and #1s. Quality is good but with new crop this time of year, skinning can be an issue. They will start to store some and in the next couple weeks, we should see very nice quality that has had skin set and clean.
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Transportation

Markets and products of regional produce surge in Q3 and Q4. Regional pressures associated with seasonal harvest, production, and inventory stocking put additional pressure on the broader truckload market with some regional markets experiencing notable capacity pressure for refrigerated trucks this year, in a year where refrigerated trucks may even be outbid for dry loads. The traditional produce season is well in play and harvest markets have and continue to migrate north. The USA is late in the grilling season and protein requirements for refrigerated trucks persists from key states such as California, Missouri, Arkansas, Iowa, and Nebraska.

Expect increased pressure to pull dry and reefer capacity to support these markets in the coming months:
• Soup Season: Cyclical demand for capacity in the Pacific Northwest and the Northeast from the annual build of inventory to support fall and winter soup season starts with demand for refrigerated trucks hauling produce inbound to manufacture and dry vans outbound with canned soups.
• Fall Harvest season creates high demand for reefer and van capacity for apples, cherries, and Christmas trees in the Pacific Northwest.
• Additional fall harvest includes the Great Lakes and Upper Midwest regions for sweet corn, apples, pumpkins, and other late-season vegetables.

2021 continues to be a year of unique imbalances for refrigerated trucks and as outlined above, the demand patterns migrate with the crops which result in regional capacity demands much greater than the national average. We offer a national perspective of the refrigerated truck spot market through the lens of DAT’s LTR: 2021 is an exceptional year with LTRs at multiples of dry van and levels not seen in previous years. We invite our clients to engage their C.H. Robinson account managers to discuss the regional markets they are shipping from, discuss how capacity and price can be aided through amended business processes, timing of events, and route guide strategies.

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Fresh from the kitchen

Sparkling Ghost Dessert Cups

Ingredients

  • 2 cups red grapes
  • 1 cup halved strawberries
  • ½ cup raspberries
  • 1 bottle Welch’s Sparkling Red Grape Juice Cocktail
  • 2 cups light whipped frozen dessert topping, thawed
  • 1 oz semi-sweet chocolate, melted

Instructions

  • Toss the grapes with the strawberries and raspberries. Divide evenly between 6 glasses. Top with Welch’s Sparkling Red Grape Juice Cocktail.
  • Transfer the whipped topping to a plastic, re-sealable bag; snip off one of the bottom corners. Pipe the topping around the glass and then pipe a ghost shape in the center.
  • Working quickly, use the melted chocolate to create eyes and a mouth on each of the ghosts. Serve immediately.

Read more here.

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