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Fresh from the Field

This week’s fresh update

July 7, 2020 | Volume 7, Issue 27

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Conventional Vegetables

Due to domestic supplies coming to an end before expected and a lot of retail demand for the 4th of July, markets have jumped significantly. Summers are always a difficult time as it is winter in Peru, and most of the production comes from there during July and August. We’re expecting markets to continue to be elevated and lower production volumes in the coming weeks, until the full Peruvian season gets under way in September.
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Pepper continues to remain short, and markets are very active. Specialty packs are hard to come by as shortage of labor (due to reported cases of COVID-19) is a common theme among growing regions. South Carolina is steady, but definitely not the same volume from previous years. North Carolina is slowly getting going, but we should see better yields in the upcoming weeks. New Jersey is still scheduled to start in a small way by the weekend. Pepper will remain active until the end of the month, as Michigan and Canada will start with their season.
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Broccoli availability is improving, but is still holding a strong market with good demand. Availability will continue to improve over the next 2 weeks and should see the market come off then. Mexican crowns market is currently loose and available, but will come with 50-75% hollow stem present.
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Cabbage remains tight as Midwest deals are slow to start following colder weather and rain through June. Temps have jumped over the past 7 days which will help growth in delayed fields. Washington and Colorado programs have started and volume will continue to improve in the coming weeks.
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Supplies of celery have improved as demand settles lower after the holiday pull last week. Quality reports show occasional signs of heat damage in the form of pith with discoloration and some light color stalks. Salinas and Santa Maria are currently the primary shipping points for celery on the West Coast. Please reach out to your Robinson Fresh sales representative for current updates and availability.
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The Northeast and Michigan are definitely starting to produce some major volume. Eastern North Carolina is done for the season and Canada is probably two weeks away from starting. Georgia still has some grade-outs, as they continue to harvest some older fields. The next two weeks should provide plenty of volume.
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Iceberg and Romaine supplies remain limited this week while supplies of green and red leaf lettuces are expected to meet demand. Quality reports list seeder and occasional fringe burn as the primary defects present. The weather forecast calls for near-average temperatures into the weekend. Please reach out to your Robinson Fresh representative for current availability and updates.
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Good weather is definitely helping with the production of squash. Plenty of volume from New Jersey to Michigan. More local deals are starting to produce as well. Weather permitting , we should see good availability for the next two weeks.
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Corn is in extremely short supply nationally this week. Both California and Georgia will be winding down for the season soon. Gaps in supply are possible as the northern deals are not quite ready yet.
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Conventional Fruits

The apple market has been mostly steady for the last few weeks. Markets did go up overall starting on most items due to some USDA Foodbank programs that were put in place to help support the growers as well as people in need from the COVID-19 situation. These programs will mostly stay in place for much of this year so we don’t expect prices to drop until the new crop starts up around September. The varieties that remain the best value are Red Delicious, Fuji, Golden Delicious and Granny Smith. The tightest varieties are Honeycrisp, large high-grade Galas, and large Pink Ladies. I believe that this time of year is our time to shine as many growers will not have everything customers need and we can find them a full manifest at a great cost with our many grower relationships. Go after those orders and get the business!
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As Mexico continues to harvest late-crop avocados, their volume has been peaking on 48s and larger with smaller sizes tightening up each week. The start of new-crop Mexican avocados is peaking on 48s and smaller. Warm weather is hitting California this week and with sizes peaking on 48s and 60s, increased volumes are expected. Peru is reaching a mid-point in their season and now showing a higher percentage of large fruit. Flavor profiles from all 3 regions are favorable.
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Blueberries
New Jersey rain this week is keeping supplies snug in the Northeast; look to the West Coast. Michigan will be starting around the 10th, with some farmers scratching this week. British Columbia is starting up now, with volume expected by the end of next week. Oregon is slowly starting, with more volume coming within the next 10 days and a good push starting next week.
Blackberries
California production continues to ramp up, but increased demand is keeping the market steady.
Raspberries
Mexico availability is increasing but demand is rising to meet supply. California has started, but smaller volumes than Mexico.
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Supplies of cantaloupes are demand-exceeds-supply overall. Not much in the way of smaller fruit is available. We will see primarily domestically-grown new-crop cants in the Desert and Westside for the next week or so, then exclusively Westside only. The Westside deal anticipates better supply next week.
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Oranges
Oranges are still going strong in California. Valencias are in full swing while navels will be done this week. We have seen some quality issues on oranges due to the extreme temperatures we have seen over the last few weeks. Delays in bag times have gotten much better as shippers are starting to settle in with the USDA orders. Some shippers have started with the Chilean navels. We are expecting larger-sized navels but about 10 to 15 percent less volume this year. The start of the Chilean season is off to a rocky start as weeks of rains have delayed shipments and made arrivals delayed or spotty.
Lemons
Lemon demand has spiked quite a bit in the past few weeks due to more and more restaurants being opened throughout the country. As a result, we are starting to see a small up-tick in food service business. We have also seen bag times increase and prices increase. We have not had many quality issues so far this domestic season and most growers are peaking on large-sized choice lemons. Import lemons have just hit the West Coast recently which should help keep prices from rising much further. Import lemon volume is projected to be about the same as last year and we are expecting smaller sizes to start the season.
Grapefruit
Grapefruit demand has been very strong this season. USDA orders have certainly played a part in that and will keep prices up and supply down. We expect demand to stay strong which could create a gap in the California and Texas seasons. There is much more fancy fruit than choice fruit in the fields. Large sizes are limited right now and prices keep rising.
Mandarins
Gold nuggets have finished for the season, so the domestic mandarin season is done. Chilean mandarins have hit the West Coast and we expect demand to increase now that the domestic season has finished. Prices are pretty high at the moment on Chilean mandarins. Rains in Chile will likely be delaying shipments of all Chilean fruit.
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While the Mexican grape season winds down rapidly through the first full week in July, good volumes of red seedless grapes (Flames) are still available out of Nogales, Arizona, along with the last few lots of green seedless (Sugraones) grapes as well. Aggressive pricing on all Mexican grape options will remain through this week as all growers attempt to move their remaining inventory as soon as possible. While the Mexican grape region has all but finished, the Arvin/Delano, California, growing region is just kicking off harvest for the 2020 season. Multiple growers have begun to harvest the first new-crop variety (Flames) of red seedless for the domestic season, with volume building through the week. On the other hand, the start to new- crop green seedless grapes is lagging a bit behind due to sugar, with nearly all growers first attempting to harvest early this week on the Sugraone variety. Overall, grape volumes out of California should continue to build with each subsequent week in July, with market pricing coming off slowly through the month.
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Offshore and Mexican supply of honeydew is winding down and we anticipate improving supplies out of the California San Joaquin Valley. In addition, some of the fancy melons which are grown seasonally in the Westside will be available starting this week, although supply will be short.
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As we get close to the end of the crop with high humidity and rains daily in Martinez de la Torre, Mexico we will see some quality decline and we are expecting stylar and oil spotting at higher percentages than normal. We are peaking on 200 count and could be promoting 175/200 count now. Demand has been light on larger sizes (110/150 count) and we will have transitional availability on those sizes until the crop changes in the next 1-2 weeks. In August, fruit may become short for a couple weeks due to the crop transition and we will keep you updated on that transition.
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We are now past peak production in the growing region of Tecoman, Colima, as several shippers have stopped quoting this week. I expect the market to increase this week as many shippers are working with limited supply. Sizing remains the same, with sizes heavier to 7/8s and fewer 9s and 12s. At this time, we are not seeing any quality issues or weather-related events that would affect supply.
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We still have Anjous out of Oregon and Washington. The prices have risen a little and will continue to go up as we work our way through the summer months. We do not expect to gap on Anjou pears and will have them right up to the new crop later this year. Imported Bartletts and Bosc are available on both coasts with good availability and steady pricing. We expect new-crop Bartlett pears to start up around July 17th out of California. The California Bartletts crop looks to be a little smaller than last year but plenty of fruit to promote at attractive retails.
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Pineapple

Pineapple (Offshore)
Gustavo.Lora@robinsonfresh.com
Tropical Wave #13 affected the Costa Rican territory. Compounded with the unstable atmosphere, it generated intense rain showers in most areas of the country. Rain accumulations in the North and North Caribbean areas have been up to 3 inches. Weather conditions were typical of the rainy season with partially to mostly cloudy weather with rain showers and thunderstorms. Lack of sunlight due to constant cloudy conditions could affect internal development and brix levels with possible water spotting issues that are being monitored. Growers will likely harvest early in order to avoid water spotting which could mean lower brix levels and lower external and internal condition. The USDA crossing report is showing a slight increase in inbound volume from Costa Rica for week 26 at 240 containers for the entire continental USA. This number is likely to be revised. The USDA is reporting demand as fairly good and about steady market. Demand for pines remains strong with more requests on large-count fruit. Yields at the farm level continue to drop as more growers clear out natural fruit and enter their low production period. Yields are also being affected by significant rainfall which increases the incidence of water spot, reducing the pack-out due to grade-out of this quality defect. Mexico’s gap continues to move inbound volume from Costa Rica into the Gulf States, reducing the total offering to other destinations which has affected availability for the East and West Coasts.

Pineapple (Mexican)
Jiovani.Guevara@robinsonfresh.com
Veracruz, Tabasco and Colima, Mexico, are the primary growing regions for pineapples. Main ports of entry for Mexican pineapples are border crossings in Texas and Arizona. Supplies from Mexico continue to decline as we continue the “summer gap;” demand continues to be steady. Markets are expected to strengthen in the next couple of weeks as supplies continue to decline. Quality at this time is very inconsistent, with a large range of brix and internal conditions. Most shippers have very little availability on all sizes. Please contact your sales representative with any questions.
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Demand is very strong and most shippers are extremely limited on supplies. California production is trending downward. Santa Maria, California, is forecast for mostly sunny skies with highs in the 70s and lows in the 50s. Salinas/Watsonville is forecast for mostly sunny skies with highs in the 60s, increasing to the 70’s Thursday through the weekend, and lows in the lower-50s. Santa Maria, California, fruit has occasional bruising, soft shoulders, dark fruit, overripe, heat and wind damage, scarring and misshapen. Average counts are 22 to 24.
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Supplies are still tight out of Georgia on both seedless and minis this week. We still had more rain this past weekend. We are seeing lower yields from the recent rains in Georgia. Missouri will start this week in a light way and North Carolina will start in a week or two. Production is light this week out of Arizona and Southern California. The quality has been good and supplies are limited. Texas is shipping from the Floresville area with limited production, and Brownfield will start the first week in August.
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Organic Fruits & Vegetables

The organic apple crop is fairly tight right now. In Washington, the remaining fruit is in a few growers’ hands and the prices have been creeping up every couple of weeks. Expect prices to remain on the higher side and volumes to be lower until the new crop starts back up in Washington with the organic Galas starting first around August 20th. The new crop out of Washington is looking like another good one at this point, but we have a ways to go until product is ready to be harvested.
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Organic Consolidation

Bob.Stone@chrobinson.com

Several items that have been short in supply in the market because of trouble with the early spring plantings, particularly broccoli and cauliflower, are finally loosening up. Prices are coming off ever so slightly and will continue to drop after the holiday. Yet it still seems every grower is gapping on something but not all growers are gapping on the same items. This is where our consolidation program at the Los Angeles Service Center (LASC) can come in handy. Allow us to do your procuring from across the market to get the best supplies and values, and then consolidate at the LASC for one-stop loading. Also, our grower of organic stone fruit is now going full force out of Reedley, and we have daily deliveries to the LASC and Los Angeles areas. We have our own new crop watermelon in Arizona that we can bring into the LASC along with new-crop U.S.-grown grapes out of Coachella. We can work all of these factors to your advantage as the LASC is in the right place to help you with your consolidation needs, given our location. We are on the main lines coming into Southern California from the northerly locations. And with our 04:00 receiving time, trucks can unload at the LASC and still be in LA before traffic. And just a few hours away, there is the border crossing in Nogales, Arizona, where all three colors of seedless grapes are now crossing in good volume with deals available. All of these locales flow naturally into the LASC where we intersect with over 5 major U.S. highways, making the LASC the natural spot for all of your consolidation needs. Our appointment phone line is 909-683-1695.
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Organic Dry Vegetables

Bob.Stone@chrobinson.com

California dry vegetables have started this week with green bell peppers hitting the market and cukes soon to follow. And this week, there are excellent promotional opportunities on cucumbers out of Nogales. We are also starting to see some crossings into Texas with the dry vegetables with volume expected to likewise pick up next week. The growers in the Southeast are finally starting to see product coming out of Florida and Georgia fields, bringing bell peppers and other dry vegetables into the market in the East.
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Organic minis continue in California. Supplies are very light. We are seeing very light production this week in Salome, Arizona, with our own MelonUp!® label. Supplies will remain tight through the next few weeks. We will have California organic minis in MelonUp!® brand beginning next week.
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Organic Onions

Bob.Stone@chrobinson.com

Organic onions have started out of the Lower Central California Valley. Great product and promotable prices available. Our main grower has all three colors–red, yellow, and white, plus sweet onions–currently available. They also have a commercial-grade, 50-pound bag on reds and yellows at a very competitive price. All sizes and packs are available. The onions can be picked up FOB or can be transferred to the LASC in San Bernardino per sack or carton.
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There are very limited quantities of organic pears available from imports right now on the East and West Coasts. Prices are high and volumes are very limited. Expect things to stay this way until the new organic pear crops starts back up in Oregon and Washington later this year.
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California russet potatoes are finally going strong and supply has improved. The market demand is still strong but we have seen pricing come down on the 5-pound and 3-pound bags, but cartons remain very tight and priced high. There is no change on reds and yellows from last week’s update. Supply is good, quality is good, and pricing is stable and reasonable. Call for availability and pricing.
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We continue with great deals on butternut squashes this week. Summer squashes tightened up a little but we should see that market loosen up over the next week or so what with the California fields finally getting ready to start after being delayed because of late plantings this spring. Product is starting up on both the East and West Coasts.
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Organic Sweet Potatoes

Chris.Lemmon@robinsonfresh.com

We will start to see some supply change in sweet potatoes over the next few weeks. Supply is still good but we are starting to see certain sizes, such as mediums and jumbos, become less available. We will see this more and more as we get into July, but new crop is close and we should start to see new crop by the middle of August. Call for availability and pricing.
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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.

Michael.Moyski@chrobinson.com
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Fresh from the kitchen

SPAGHETTI SQUASH PIZZA NESTS

Ingredients

  • 1 bag (16-ounce) Green Giant™ Fresh spaghetti squash
  • 1/2 Cup pizza sauce
  • 12 slices pepperoni, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 2-3 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 Cup Mozzarella cheese, shredded

Preparation

  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Spray a mini muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. Prepare spaghetti squash according to Steam in Pack directions.  Place on paper towels, let cool 10 minutes.  Squeeze extra moisture from spaghetti squash and pat dry.

… More at Spaghetti Squash Pizza Nests

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