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Fresh from the Field

This week’s fresh update

March 24, 2020 | Volume 7, Issue 12

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Conventional Vegetables

Volume has been coming on heavy the last several weeks. Weather has been ideal, and the forward-looking forecast shows highs in the 80s which is great for production. Many retailers are promoting asparagus on ad currently and will continue to do so through Easter. Markets have already begun to rise and will continue to do so as we head into the Easter holiday.
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Demand continues to remain relatively strong, and the market took an upswing. Pepper will remain relatively short as demand exceeds supply. No major relief in sight as Mexico just took another setback last week with a surplus of rain; Mexico is hurt and will continue to struggle with production until the end of the season. Florida will try to keep up with demand, but the shortage of labor along with the heat are starting to see some negative results. As mentioned before, we expect pepper to remain very volatile, and not very suitable for promotions.
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Markets remain strong due to obvious demand pressure. Very limited supplies out of Florida as they begin to wind down and transition to Georgia. Our Georgia crop is scheduled to begin the second week of April. Mexico crossings remain strong. Availability in California is tight with prices reflecting the situation.
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Cabbage is available out of Florida with demand not too high. There is plenty of cabbage available with markets are all over the board, depending on shipper.
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Celery supplies have remained steady as we approach the end of the desert growing season and begin the transition north to Oxnard. Overall quality remains good as the temperatures have been mild and reports of pith have been minimal for this time of year. Due to the muddy conditions last week, there have been reports of occasional bottom rot. Early reports from Oxnard show that the product is on schedule and quality is expected to be nice. Please reach out to your Robinson Fresh sales representative for information regarding promotional deals on volume.
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Supply continues to be short both in Florida and Nogales. Florida’s outlook looks promising as more growers will start to harvest this week. Most shippers predict a slow start as a result of serious damage to their first planting (high winds from a month ago produced a lot of scarring and misshapen). Conditions from Mexico are not improving, and volume continues to suffer. Out of Mexico, we don’t expect any relief for the rest of the season. For the time being, demand exceeds supplies and we expect conditions to remain as is.
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Demand is leveling off on greens with plenty of volume in Georgia on collards, kale, turnips out for the next 10 days. Mustard is available in small quantities for the next 10 days as well.
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Overall supplies of Iceberg and leaf lettuce are abundant with good quality and good condition following the rains last week. The weather forecast for the southern growing region calls for mild temperatures and dry conditions over the next ten days while the northern growing region shows a chance of rain with colder temperatures. The transition from the southern region in Yuma and the Imperial Valley up to the northern region in Santa Maria and Salinas is scheduled for the end of this month.
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Good news in that we are seeing a surplus of squash, mainly zucchini, both in Florida and Nogales. Hopefully, this is the beginning of consistent supply from both regions. Quality of yellow has also improved. At this point, we know for sure that Florida has started with new fields of their spring crop. We still maintain our stand to stay away from any promotions until we see a consistent supply.
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Supply is expected to start to keep pace with demand as harvests increase this week. Market prices will continue to be somewhat volatile and higher than normal for this time of year. Supply will remain limited for most of this week.
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Conventional Fruits

The apple market has completely changed in the last week due to the coronavirus. Retailers are ordering more product each week but still are running out of product at retail due to the increased sales. The pull on apples out of Washington was huge last week and product was extremely short by Saturday morning. Growers have increased their shifts and their packing days and cannot keep up with the demand. We expect strong orders this week and we expect to see prices continue to rise and demand to exceed supply. The Pink Lady and premium Honeycrisp are still the tightest markets with prices moving up every week. The import crop from Chile, which runs from April through August, looks to be a normal sized crop and will help to keep a lid on the prices out of Washington on the key import varieties which include Gala, Cripps Pink, Fuji and Granny Smith. Please plan on increased lead time and increased pricing for the next few weeks. Last minute orders will result in higher prices being paid and some items not being filled.
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Supply from Mexico has increased, and California growers are anticipating resuming harvest as the rain is expected to decrease this week. Retail demand remains steady while foodservice demand is reduced. The reduction in demand from the food service industry has created an overabundance of #2 avocados in the market.
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Blueberries
Blueberries continue to decline in production in Chile with approximately one week+ left in the season. However, they will be able to cover some market orders this week. Quality is still holding as fair/good. Mexico continues to ramp in production. Quality is very good. Demand for blueberries may start declining due to overall demand decline from COVID-19. California is starting in Oxnard, picking lightly; quality is very good. Florida is just starting, so higher costs, but they should be able to cover a small amount of market demand this week; quality is very good.
Raspberries
Raspberries continue to be in good production, with the market declining. Crossings are impacted by the coronavirus so additional time is needed for fruit to come up so order in advance.
Blackberries
Blackberries continue to tighten as we move through another production cycle in Mexico. Additional ad demand is exasperating the situation.
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Supplies have become short on both coasts. Limited labor and port issues have caused the spike in price, and supplies are expected to remain short. We will continue to monitor as the supply should continue out of Honduras and Guatemala for the next three weeks or better. Overall quality remains nice.
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Demand for imported grapes has exploded over the past week, which helped to move through much of the large inventory of both red and green seedless that was being held on both coasts. While good inventories of red seedless varieties (Crimson/Royal Red/Sweet Celebration/Jack Salute) still remain across the board, the green seedless market has flipped and all green varieties (Thompson/Sweet Globe/Timpson) are now limited and will stay this way through the remainder of the import season. Black seedless varieties and red globes are now finally available in good volumes on both coasts. Overall market pricing will remain steady on red seedless grapes into late March, but we will see green seedless pricing increasing rapidly with each week into early April.
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Honeydews out of Nogales, Arizona, are in good supply. Larger size fruit is still more abundant than smaller size fruit. We are bringing limited loads into Nogales on a committed basis only.
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We are about a month into the Mexican mango season out of Oaxaca and Michoacán, with no major quality issues to report. Fruit is solid and overall appearance is clean. Overall supply is still limited but more is becoming available every week. We expect heavier supply from these regions as we get into April.
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Supply continues to gradually increase out of Tecoman, Colima, as we get into the last weeks of March. Market conditions have not changed much since last week, prices should stay this week. We expect week-over-week increases in March to target promos early April followed by the peak season in May/June. Overall quality has improved, and we are not seeing any major quality concerns.
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Domestic Bartlett pears have cleaned up and the Bosc will also finish up in around 6 to 8 weeks. There are still plenty of D’Anjou pears available out of the Northwest and these will be available year-round from a few growers. Import Bartletts from Argentina have arrived, and quality is superb. Sales are strong due to the coronavirus but there are still deals to be had out of the Northwest on D’Anjou and Bosc pears.
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Pineapple

Pineapple (Offshore)
Gustavo.Lora@robinsonfresh.com
Trade winds were present over Costa Rica with moderate to strong wind gusts affecting the central and northern regions. This was favored by the high atmospheric pressure in the Caribbean Sea. The low content of humidity in the environment helped keep a stable dry pattern across all the national territory. Quality is reported as good, helped by the dryer conditions. Issues reported now are of having UV radiation damage, both internal and external, due to the high radiation levels. The biggest issue this creates is having internal damage to the fruit that doesn’t show at the packing house. Brix levels are starting to recover this week and the biological change of age is also ending. The USDA crossing report is still not updated and last week was showing inbounds from Costa Rica for week 10 at only 430 containers for the entire continental USA. The USDA is also reporting very good demand and a steady market with light supply. Growers are seeing better volume and good quality fruit but just a little late for the heaviest pull weeks of Easter. The good news is that the surge in demand due to the coronavirus could keep supply on pace and create additional demand for pines all through the peak.

Pineapple (Mexican)
Jiovani.Guevara@robinsonfresh.com
Veracruz, Tabasco, and Colima are the primary Mexican growing regions for pineapples. Most of Mexican pineapples cross by truck through border towns in Texas. There are light supplies this week with high demand on all sizes as we approach Easter promotions. Markets are very active, and demand is exceeding supply. Quality is good, with good brix at 13%+. Light supplies are available on all sizes, but we expect to see higher volume on all sizes. Please contact your sales representative with any questions.
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Supplies in California are tight and rain from the weekend may keep the numbers low. Better weather and warmer temperatures next week should help with promotable supplies. Florida is still hanging on with light supplies but should finish in the next week or two. Santa Maria, California, after rains this past weekend and light showers for the beginning of the week, forecasts Thursday as partly sunny, Friday breezy, and then mostly sunny for the weekend. Highs are forecast in the 50s, increasing to the 60s Friday through the weekend, with lows in the upper 30s to 40s. Oxnard, California, after light rains and showers, is forecast for Wednesday with brief showers, Thursday windy, and then mostly sunny for the balance of the week. Highs are forecast in the upper 50s, increasing to the 60s Friday through the weekend, with lows in the 40s. Santa Maria, California, fruit has occasional bruising, white shoulders and tips, soft spots, and scarring from wind and water damage. Average counts are 16 to 18, occasionally higher and lower. Oxnard, California, fruit has bruising, white shoulder, water damage, seedy tips, soft shoulders and misshapen, scarring from wind, and some pack bruises from larger berries. Average counts are 14 to 16, occasionally higher and lower.
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Supplies are a little tight on the east and west coasts. We are shipping from Pelham, Georgia, out of the Yucatan, Mexico. Florida will start this week with light supplies. Supplies will pick up at the end of April when Arcadia gets going. Texas has good supplies on 36 count and 60 count from Tampico, Mexico. Nogales has light supplies and Guaymas, Mexico, is just starting up. Minis are tight in Nogales and supplies will pick up at the end of April.
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Organic Fruits & Vegetables

The organic apple market is now rising rapidly as demand out of Washington has exploded in the last several weeks. Expect markets to tighten up significantly with prices rising significantly over the next couple of weeks. The import season will begin in late April and the crop out of Chile is looking like a normal-volume year with fruit smaller than normal. We hope this will keep some pressure on the Washington pricing.
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Organic Consolidation

Bob.Stone@chrobinson.com

The Los Angeles Service Center (LASC) will be starting our organic lemon program later this week as soon as the weather abates. This same adverse weather has wreaked havoc on all markets making the LASC the place to source and consolidate all your organic needs as we can use our extensive contacts to pull from several areas and consolidate the product at the LASC. This works out well as the LASC is in the right place to help you with your consolidation needs given our location. We are over 60 miles closer to all the growing regions in the Arizona and California deserts than is the LA Basin. We are in the heart of the citrus growing region; just beyond the desert farms in the U.S. there is the border crossing in Nogales, Arizona, to bring the Mexican product into the country. All 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 your consolidation needs. We have expanded our receiving hours and can now take your trucks at 04:00, giving them plenty of time to drop at the LASC and then head into the LA Basin before traffic. Our appointment phone line is 909-683-1695.
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Organic Dry Vegetables

Bob.Stone@chrobinson.com

Unfortunately, the entire dry vegetable category continues to suffer from lack of supply on almost every item caused by the effects of the early blights and abnormal weather in Mexico which has affected both conventional and organic dry vegetables. It is so bad that cucumbers are next to nonexistent. This situation continues to manifest itself in a tight product and higher prices. Although the rain has abated, the cool weather is holding back the plants from bursting with product. Additionally, the product which is out there is spread among many growers and regions. Therefore, feel free to call us and allow us to gather your organic dry vegetable needs. We do not expect to see any real relief until late April or early May but be sure to call us with your needs, as far in advance as possible, as each day something pops up for sale but it does not stay on the market for long. As always, the best advice is to plan ahead.
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Organic minis are currently gapping. We expect new crop from northern Mexico to begin next week.
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Organic Onions

Bob.Stone@chrobinson.com

Organic onions are gapping from all regions except one, and that is Texas, who has started their organic Texas 1015 sweet varieties. There are small amounts of white onions trickling in from Mexico but the winter weather problems have caused heavy damage to the crop. This means we will not see good numbers on organic onions, or onions in general, until the California desert starts in mid to late April.
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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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Organic potatoes, like all potatoes right now, are demand-exceeds-supply. The supply of organic potatoes is still very good but as more people start to take organic potatoes that normally don’t, we will see the supply dry up sooner than usual. Markets are rising and we will see this for the next couple of weeks until demand settles down.
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Organic hard squash and soft squash both remain at a premium. We are seeing some organic soft starting to cross the Mexican border with yellow squash crossing in much greater volume than zucchini, currently. The market in the next few weeks will improve if the weather holds in Mexico, but the crop is still far short because of winter weather woes. We will not see good numbers until we get into the states over the next 2 to 6 weeks.. The hard squash will remain tight with many gaps on specific varieties (i.e., acorn and Delicata) until the spring crop starts in the desert in 3 to 5 weeks.
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Organic Sweet Potatoes

Chris.Lemmon@robinsonfresh.com

Organic sweet potatoes have become very high in demand this week and we will see that for the next couple of months. Because they store very well, we have seen the market go up this week. Supply on organic reds and Beauregards is starting to dwindle in storage so please book your orders early. It is taking a couple days to get orders processed. Quality is still very good and should stay this way for a while.
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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

CHIA SEED LEMON PANCAKES WITH CITRUS GLAZE

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons chia seeds
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 1/2 cup oat flour*
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 banana, mashed
  • 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed Tropicana® Fresh lemon juice, plus 1 tablespoon zest
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla

… More at Chia Seed Lemon Pancakes with Citrus Glaze

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