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Fresh from the Field

This week’s fresh update

May 26, 2020 | Volume 7, Issue 21

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Conventional Vegetables

After about a month of limited volume and expensive prices on asparagus, we’re starting to see relief. Domestic production is finally picking up in all areas: CA, MI, WA, NJ, and import volume in Peru and Mexico are also increasing. June is expected to be a very promotable month, with many different production options across the country. Quality has also been excellent so far especially on domestic production.
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Bell pepper availability has improved compared to the past 2-3 weeks; however, still short and will continue like that at least for another 7-10 days until Georgia starts with significant volume the first week of June. Mexico and Florida supplies are extremely limited and pretty much done for the season. California fields are in production but can barely take care of the West Coast demand. Our pepper crops in Adel have started with crown picks and so far the quality has been exceptional. Big sizes will remain predominant in Georgia for at least the next two weeks. XLarge and Large will be remain a challenge. Expect promotional volume possibly the first 2 weeks of June.
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Celery supplies have increased slightly while demand remains steady to start this week. Overall quality from Oxnard is showing good condition and fairly good color with fewer reports of seeder. Oxnard is currently the primary shipping point for celery on the West Coast while the Salinas season is expected to start picking up in volume during the second to third week of June. Please reach out to your Robinson Fresh sales representative for information regarding promotional deals on volume.
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As we get into June, expect cucumber availability to be somewhat short. Mexican fields in Sonora will be in play for another week and then will start wrapping up for the season. Baja and San Luis are coming on with steady volume and excellent quality. From a domestic standpoint, Florida fields are pretty much done for the season. Georgia volume is steady but with a rainy forecast in the horizon, our production in Adel is somewhat limited. As Mexican supply decreases, we recommend not to promote this item for the time being.
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Supplies of Iceberg and leaf lettuces were lower last week due to increased demand from the Memorial Day holiday combined with reduced summer plantings coming into play. The weather forecast calls for high temperatures today and tomorrow which could have an adverse effect on quality. This heat wave has the potential to cause some tip burn issues in the plants set for harvest over the next two weeks. Current quality reports show very nice overall quality with good size, color, and condition. Please reach out to your Robinson Fresh representative for current availability and updates.
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The Mexican fields in Hermosillo are pretty much done for the season. Florida is done as well. Georgia fields have steady production with zucchini definitely more available than yellow squash. We expect volume to slow down some this week as rainy days are in the forecast. Our production in Adel and Omega, Georgia, remains pretty strong with exceptional quality thus far; definitely more zucchini than yellow. New regions from North Carolina all the way to Texas are starting slowly. We expect squash (especially green) to remain fairly steady during the next couple weeks in Georgia. However, we don’t recommend promotional volume from this region as we get into June.
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Corn is extremely short in supply nationally this week. West Coast and southern deals are winding down and rains in the east are slowing what little harvest there is. Look for corn to remain tight with elevated FOBs for the next ten days.
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Conventional Fruits

The apple market out of Washington State has tightened up significantly over the past several weeks. There are several USDA foodbank programs that are in effect that were put in place to help support the growers as well as the foodbanks due to the COVID-19 situation. This program was so large that it actually has created some shortages in the markets and has created a new floor to the markets with prices rising across the board on all items. We are expecting this to continue this week so expect prices to tick up again and for orders to take a little longer to book. The tightest item remains the Honeycrisp trays and bags. Honeycrisp prices have risen considerably over the last two weeks and will continue to get tighter and more expensive every week going forward. In regard to the import crop, its looks to be around average but the fruit is running a little smaller this year due to water issues in some of the growing districts. The import season runs from May through August and will help keep the markets from rising on the Gala, Granny, Pinks and Fujis.
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Avocado demand remained strong during the holiday week last week and most shippers maintained low inventory levels. Avocado harvest is expected to be heavy this week as California experiences another heat wave. Growers in Mexico are expected to peak on 48s and larger while California peaks on 48s and smaller. Meanwhile, Peruvian inbounds are expected to peak on size 48s during the next several weeks.
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California continuing to push promotional volumes this week and the only hindrance might be weather as temps are supposed to hit 100+ degrees Fahrenheit this week in the Valley which will impact labor. Georgia continues to see a bit smaller crop than expected, transitioning to North Carolina.
Blackberries
Blackberry supplies are starting to decline and this is starting to be noticed in the market. There is talk about a small delay between when Mexico ends and California starts due to how early Mexico started this past Fall.
Raspberries
Raspberries continue on their downward cycle and will through June. Expect tighter markets for the next few weeks.
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Supplies of cantaloupe are demand-exceeds-supply on larger fruit with good supplies of smaller fruit. The offshore deal will finish this week, leaving primarily domestically-grown new crop in the Desert Southwest. The domestic cantaloupe deal is improving supply-wise and size-wise this week. Mexican-grown cantaloupes are winding down at this time.
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Oranges
We have seen a gigantic spike in orange demand. The largest driver of this is the government contracts to recently purchase oranges and send them to food banks. As a result, demand has been strong for oranges and we have seen prices shoot up on all sizes. The Central Valley is seeing extreme heat to start the week which could affect quality, so we will be keeping an eye on that. We are still seeing an increase in bagged orange demand as consumers fear fruit that can be touched by numerous people in grocery stores. Add in government contracts and we are seeing a 1- to 5-day delay on orders due to lines being booked with bag orders. More and more Valencias are starting to be harvested, so that will help combat the shortage of navels (especially on the smaller sizes). However, we expect supplies to be limited and prices to rise the next few weeks.
Lemons
Desert lemons in District 3 are done and new crops are now harvesting in District 1. Demand for lemons has been steady, but still down significantly compared to before the coronavirus. California lemons are peaking at 115s/140s. Choice lemons are very abundant. Now is a great time to promote choice lemon bags.
Grapefruit
New crops of California grapefruit started and more and more growers are starting to harvest grapefruit. California grapefruit is becoming less limited in a still strong market. Grapefruit has emerged as one of the more strongly demanded citrus items. Prices have started creeping up on grapefruit as well in the last week.
Mandarins
Supplies have tightened. Will be keeping an eye on availability over the next few weeks. There is still a strong demand for Gold Nuggets. We are mainly seeing 40s and smaller out there. Mandarins will be the go-to item for U.S. customers seeking to boost their immune systems with Vitamin C.
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The trend of slow starts out of both the Mexico and Coachella seasons continues as both growing regions experienced extreme high temperatures a few weeks back which has dramatically slowed the first red seedless variety (Flame) from gaining color and all green seedless varieties (Perlette/Early Sweet/Prime) from gaining sugar. While Mexican green seedless options have slowly ramped up volume over the past few weeks, the start on red seedless grapes was pushed back nearly 10-14 days from original estimates. Most growers are now just beginning harvest on red seedless through this week, with volume now pushed back into the weekend of May 30th. While all Mexican grape varieties are expected to remain tight though this week, volume is still anticipated to ramp up into the first week of June and be steady through the entire month.
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Offshore and Mexican supply of honeydew is winding down and we anticipate improving supplies out of Arizona and the California Imperial Valley. In addition, some of the fancy melons which are grown seasonally in the Desert will be available beginning this week.
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Demand continues to outweigh supply and the market has climbed as a result of delayed/slowed planting during the initial COVID-19 outbreak. Supply will remain consistent with what we are seeing right now with potentially 1-2 more loads per week for Robinson Fresh during June/July. Peak sizing at the moment is between an 8 count/9 count with a few 12s.
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We still have good supplies of Anjou pears out of the Northwest and will have availability right on through until we start the new crop in late summer. Deals can be had on US#1 large Anjou at this time. The Bosc pears are now finished out of the Northwest. We have good supplies of both Bartlett and Bosc pears arriving on each coast every week now. The fruit quality on these pears is very good with ample supplies available. Expect this market to remain a little weak with good deals available.
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Pineapple

Pineapple (Offshore)
Gustavo.Lora@robinsonfresh.com
There’s still an unstable weather pattern over Costa Rica. The closeness of the Intertropical Convergence Zone in the Pacific is generating high humidity and unstable conditions which increases the possibility of rain showers. Rains are expected to be stronger in the Pacific and Central areas and lighter for the North and Caribbean areas. Fruit condition is reported as good with very light affectation by the weather conditions. Transition is unstable and slow, so close monitoring is required for any upcoming issues. The USDA crossing report is showing a good increase on inbound volume from Costa Rica for week 20 at 300 containers for the entire continental USA. This number is extremely low for Costa Rica’s typical crossings this time of year. The USDA is reporting moderate demand and about steady market. Market remains as last week with good demand and tight volume. The next few weeks will be key for growers as they plan for heavy weeks. We have one of our primary farms about to gap staring on week 22, running through week 30. The push for higher prices at the farms will continue as growers see better demand and more favorable offers coming their way.

Pineapple (Mexican)
Jiovani.Guevara@robinsonfresh.com

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Demand is steady in California for the best quality fruit. The Salinas/Watsonville area continues to increase its volume, while the Santa Maria area is producing decent numbers. Santa Maria, California, after heat advisories on Monday, is forecast for mostly sunny skies with increasing cloudiness for the weekend with highs in the 70s and lows in the 50s. Salinas/Watsonville is forecast for sunny skies with increasing cloudiness Friday through the weekend, with highs in the 70s, decreasing to the 60s on Friday through the weekend, and lows in the 50s. Santa Maria, California, fruit has occasional bruising, soft shoulders, overripe, some dark fruit and scarring from the wind, and water damage. Average counts are 18 to 20.
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Supplies are still tight this week and they will get better next week as Georgia starts. We are heavier to 45-count seedless on the West Coast. We are shipping from Southern Florida. Minis are tight out East but we have plenty of supplies out West. Arcadia is going with good quality. The Newberry area has started with light volume. Texas has supplies from Tampico, Mexico, and from Edinburg, but this area will continue to wind down over the next couple of weeks. Nogales is also winding down from Northern Mexico. Minis are also picking up in volume from Nogales and we have good supplies on 6 count.
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Organic Fruits & Vegetables

The organic apple market has been tightening up for weeks as domestic supply winds down and demand stays strong. Expect markets to continue to tighten up with prices rising slightly as we progress through the season. The import organic apples are starting to arrive into the U.S. now and will run through August. The one complaint about this crop is that the fruit is definitely running a size or two smaller than normal, so large fruit will be a little short. Overall, expect to see a tighter market on large premium fruit and an abundance of smaller fruit this season on the imports.
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Organic Consolidation

Bob.Stone@chrobinson.com

Crops are beginning to come on in good numbers from many different locales across California and Mexico with the Mexican product coming out of Nogales, for the most part. There are many and varied deals starting to surface across the board. However, not every grower has every item in deal quantity; thus, causing the need to source from several locations to get your best values. Also, our Tomorrow’s® Organic California Valencia oranges have started in force. We can work all of these factors to your advantage as the Los Angeles Service Center (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 is the border crossing in Nogales, Arizona, to bring the Mexican product into the country. 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

We are now approximately three to four weeks away from the first of the California-grown dry vegetables and they will be quite welcome with the poor showing the Mexican winter crop had this past season. There continues to be sporadic supply from Mexico with cucumbers continuing to offer the best value. All colors of bell peppers remain the toughest thing to find right now. Eggplant market has also tightened up. Tomatoes are slowly starting to pick up in supply; although, Tomorrow’s® Organic vegetables can still be hard to find.
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Organic minis continue in a very light way out of Hermosillo, Mexico, and are crossing in Nogales. Supplies are very light. We will see domestic production also begin in a light way the end of next week.
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Organic Onions

Bob.Stone@chrobinson.com

Organic onions have started out of the California Desert. 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 of reds and yellows at a very competitive price. All sizes and packs are available. The onions can be picked up FOB in El Centro or can be transferred to the Los Angeles Service Center (LASC) in San Bernardino by sack or carton.
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Domestic organic D’Anjou and Bosc remain available. Arrivals of organic Bartletts from Argentina have arrived. Quality is excellent and the size profile is peaking on 90 count this season.
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The Colorado season has finished for the most part with just a few red and yellow potatoes left there. Russets have finished there for the season. We continue to have red potatoes out of Oregon and quality is holding up nicely. Load volume is available but we need a few days lead time to get them packed. California potato season has started with a few red and yellow potatoes available out of Bakersfield. The market is very hot and pricing is reflecting that. We should start to see better supplies as growers continue to dig.
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Organic hard squashes continue to increase in availability with good numbers showing on butternut and acorn with some Delicata right around the corner. The Imperial Valley starts up in a few weeks. Soft summer squashes, yellow, yellow crookneck, and zucchini are all crossing regularly now as the fields in Mexico are finally getting more seasonable weather (although, still not as warm as usual). However, supplies can still be up one day and down the next on the soft squashes as the harsh, unusual winter effects are still being felt. The best item to promote in this category at this time continues to be zucchini.
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Organic Sweet Potatoes

Chris.Lemmon@robinsonfresh.com

Organic sweet potatoes are still going strong with all four varieties. The market has stabilized after the big push that COVID-19 created. Markets are firm in price but supply is good. Quality is good.
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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

TROPICANA® FRESH FRUIT POPSICLES

Ingredients for Simple Syrup

  • 1 1/2 cups cold water
  • 1 cup hot water
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons Agave Nectar
  • 2 Tablespoons Tropicana® Fresh lemon juice

Ingredients for Fresh Fruit

  • 1 cup Tropicana® Fresh grapefruit (1 large grapefruit)
  • 1 cup Tropicana® Fresh oranges (1-2 oranges)
  • 1 cup Tropicana® Fresh pineapple (1 medium pineapple)
  • 1 cup Tropicana® Fresh mandarins (approximately 10 mandarins)

Preparation

Create the simple syrup on the stovetop.  In a medium-sized pan, add 1 cup water.  Bring to a boil.  Add 1/2 cup sugar; stir until dissolved.  Add Agave Nectar, stirring until dissolved.  Add lemon juice and 1 1/2 cups cold water; stir and set aside.

… More at Tropicana Fresh Fruit Popsicles

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