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Fresh from the Field

This week’s fresh update

March 2, 2021 | Volume 7, Issue 59

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Conventional Vegetables

Mexico production is off to the races as heavy volume continues to hit the U.S. daily. Retailers are working to promote at aggressive prices to help get movement on this item in early March. Easter is on the horizon but it still too soon to understand what type of production there will be and what retail pricing will look like.
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Market is up but demand continues to be weak. We are noticing some quality issues, mainly due to older fields being harvested. Buyer beware, as coolers continue to have old product on hand. Weather permitting, we expect conditions to remain steady, but we have noticed a decline on crossings from Mexico. Markets are on the verge of reacting as quality will be a major concern.
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Supply out west has improved along with supplies from Mexico. Georgia is almost done producing for the season, with a few growers planning to harvest for the next week or so.
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Florida/Georgia cabbage market has very little availability. Texas has product available.
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Celery supplies remain abundant this week out of Southwestern California/Arizona and the Oxnard growing regions. Current quality reports are showing very good overall condition with occasional insect damage and light color reported. The weather forecast calls for average temperatures and dry conditions this week. Please reach out to your Robinson Fresh representative for updates and information regarding promotional deals available.
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As predicted, availability from Mexico has improved and we are starting to see decent volume. Honduras, however, will be done by the middle of March, while Florida’s spring crop is still several weeks away. Expect decent availability for the next two weeks.
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Collard, turnip, and mustard have good quality and supplies. Kale continues to be on the light side. Weather forecast shows a much-needed improvement with heat and no rain.
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The weather outlook calls for average temperatures with occasional strong winds and no rain in the forecast for the southern growing region. Quality reports show very nice overall quality and condition. There continues to be plentiful supplies of iceberg and leaf lettuces available this week with many growers looking to promote. The primary shipping locations for leaf items are Yuma, Arizona, and the Imperial Valley. The transition to the northern growing regions in Oxnard, Santa Maria, and Salinas are set to start toward the end of this month. Please reach out to your Robinson Fresh representative for any additional information and promotional opportunities.
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Currently loading out of Idaho, Colorado, and Washington. The market is stable with increased production in smaller sizes 90 count to 120 count. Good availability on red and Norks in both Idaho and Colorado. Now is the time to start working on promotions for this month. Please contact your sales representative with any questions.
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Florida continues to struggle with volume, and we are probably two weeks away from starting new fields in Immokalee and Plant City, Florida. Although temperatures were cold over the weekend, Mexico is still on track to have better volume toward the end of the week. The outlook looks promising for both volume and quality.
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Florida is producing supplies but has limited volume right now. There is some percentage corn available but watch for volume to remain on the lighter side in the coming weeks. Pricing has dropped to more reasonable levels.
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Conventional Fruits

The apple market remains tight again this week as demand remains strong. We expect this tight and higher priced market to remain this way for the next couple of months as inventories are less than last year at this same time. The tightest items are the Red Delicious, Golden Delicious, premium Honeycrisp and Granny Smith. The varieties that are the best value right now are the Fuji, Cosmic Crisps, and the Ambrosia apples. We expect the import apples from Chile and New Zealand to start to arrive into the United States in early April. Early reports are that Chile has an average crop with good quality.
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The avocado market is moving quickly this week. Shippers have been holding low inventory levels during the previous couple of weeks and supplies from Mexico have slowed. Jalisco was recently impacted by cold temperatures causing a short supply situation. The demand shifted toward supplies from Michoacán; therefore, limiting volumes available for the USA. Field prices have increased and the percentage of 48s and larger have been limited. With supplies being limited from Mexico, demand on Peruvian supply remains strong from Asia and Europe. The weather in California has been dry and windy. Heavy rains are expected beginning tomorrow which will likely limit harvest out of California during the next 10 days.
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Blueberries
Supply exceeds demand. Late vessels are lining up along with on-time vessels to the U.S., so we are seeing a late-season glut of imported blueberries hit both coasts. Along with Central Mexico starting to pick up production as well, the blueberry market has done an about-face for at least another two weeks, and then supplies will drop off very quickly.
Blackberries
Demand exceeds supply. The freeze in Mexico a few weeks ago is driving up the market on blackberries as there is less production. New districts will start producing mid-March.
Raspberries
Demand exceeds supply. Mexico continues to be impacted by the freeze damage in January, followed by cold temps this past week. Supplies are expected to remain low until new districts in March. Another freeze happened over the weekend, so the issues within raspberries will continue well into March.
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Cantaloupe yields and sizing out of Guatemala and Honduras are still off due to the lingering effects of the early-season hurricanes. Sugar and quality have been marginal, at best. The rest of the offshore season is expected to continue this way. Most fruit is being shipped into Florida ports as it is the shortest ride from shipping point.
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Oranges
Navel demand has been steady the past few weeks. Pricing has also been steady as the weather has been nice. Supplies on small sizes have started to become less limited but are expected to get increasingly tighter as time goes on. Sizes are peaking on 56s/72s/88s. Exporting has been strong, and fruit is leaning strongly to fancy over choice. USDA programs have been strong as well. Quality has been excellent, with great color. Brix has been consistently over 11+ with many shippers over 12+.
Lemons
The lemon market is a bit softer than expected and supplies are keeping up with demand at this point. District 3 will most likely be finishing in the next month or so, which is earlier than normal. We also currently have plenty of lemons coming out of District 1. Exporting has been strong, and quality has been excellent out of both districts. Expect the market on lemons to continue rising in the coming weeks, especially large sizes. Deals can be found on small sizes.
Mandarins
Mandarins have also gone up a bit in price, but still where the deal is right now. Pricing is not as aggressive as it was, but there are still good deals on small sizes. Quality and brix have been strong and will only improve as the season goes on.
Grapefruit
Texas grapefruit has ended abruptly due to the storm that came through a few weeks ago. Temps were below freezing for long enough that fruit left on the trees has been damaged and will be used for juicing. Shift in market quickly went from Texas grapefruit to California grapefruit. Shippers quickly transitioned in California and began harvesting. Demand still exceeds supply. The market this week is attempting to find a place to settle. Quality is excellent. Florida and Mexican grapefruit will also become a bigger player than normal.
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The imported grape market remained strong through the month of February, with limited volume of fruit in inventory on both coasts into the final week of the month. Continued vessel and container delays have limited availability across all importers, with many already holding back inventory for early March when the industry will finally begin to feel the effects of the late-January rain that impacted multiple growing regions in Chile. We expect green seedless varieties to be impacted significantly more than red seedless from this weather event, which will result in very limited green seedless options through much of the remaining months of the import season. Looking at current varieties being shipped, a wide range of red seedless options (Allison/Sweet Celebration/Flame/Crimson) are still being sold across multiple price points, with a handful of green seedless varieties (Sugraones/Thompson/Sweet Globe/Arra 15) also still available.
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Offshore honeydew has been less affected by the early season hurricanes than the cantaloupe. Volume is only slightly lower than 2020 at this point. Sizing is off slightly as well. Sugar and quality have been decent. Mexican honeydew crossings are up year over year. Some shippers are moving regions and supply is light while there has been a pickup in demand. Quality has been very nice. Sizing is back to an even split between 5/6 counts.
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Currently, the crop is peaking on 175/150/200s. The weather forecast is showing rain on Tuesday and over the weekend. The demand for limes has been moderate. The crossings through Texas from last week were at 556, while the report sent Monday reported 169 crossings from over the weekend. Sizing profile is peaking on sizes 175/150/200; size distribution is as follows: 110-14%, 150-21%, 175-22%, 200-20%, 230-12%, and 250-11%. The following quality issues are being reported: light color and oil spots (smaller sizes), and short shelf-life on large fruit (110/150). Looking ahead as we start the new lime cycle, expect small fruit to become tight.
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Harvesting in Peru is slowing down as the season reaches its close. The volume on arrivals to the USA has begun to drop and will continue to do again next week. It is anticipated that the last arrivals from Peru will come in around the second week of March. The quality of the fruit has been exceptional thus far with clean fruit, cutting with good internal color, and decent blush as well. The markets remain consistent from last week with small fruit of 10s and 12s getting a little stronger. The Mexican mango season continues to harvest Ataulfo/Honey mangos, in addition to Haden mangos. The sizing is currently peaking on 18, 20, and 22 counts on Honey mangos. The Haden mangos are peaking on 10, 9, and 12 counts.
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The growing region of Colima is now experiencing less cool and more favorable weather with mostly sunshine and highs in the 90s throughout the week. Supply out of Colima has been increasing, but we are seeing a two-tiered market this week with some shippers quoting low while other shippers are trying to push up the market by quoting higher for end of the week. Overall demand remains low currently and the market seems unstable; but, hopefully, we will see uniformed pricing going into next week.
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We have good supplies of Anjou, Bosc, and red pears out of Washington and Oregon. The Bartlett pears will be finishing up this week. The overall crop was smaller this season which has put pressure on supply and pricing all season. The small pears are the tightest as the fruit grew big this season. The prices have remained higher this year versus last year and we are projecting that the pricing will stay firm on all the pears for the rest of the season. The imported pears from Argentina and Chile are now arriving into the East and West coast ports this week and demand for this product will be strong.
^ Back to Conventional Fruits

Pineapple

Pineapple (Offshore)
Gustavo.Lora@robinsonfresh.com
An increase of the trade winds over Costa Rica will be expected for this week. Higher temperatures and significant rainfall over the Caribbean and the Northern regions are also within the forecast while a decrease in rainfall in the Central Pacific, and South Pacific will become more typical of the dry season. Quality, internal condition and brix levels have all been reported as good, but a change of age has been reported at some farms. The USDA crossing report for week 07 is similar to last week with over 1,000 inbound containers for the entire continental USA from Costa Rica. The USDA is reporting demand as light and a slightly lower market. Demand for pines is reported as light with plenty of surplus fruit at most shipping points. The market continues to fall due, in part, to good Costa Rica supply; compounded again by a reduction in demand due to weather conditions affecting most of the USA but particularly the events that affected the Gulf states last week. The expectation is that weather will continue to improve and, as we get closer to the early Easter promotions, the market will regain some strength. Mexican supply remains good with plenty of surplus fruit available currently.

Pineapple (Mexican)
Jiovani.Guevara@robinsonfresh.com
Main growing regions in Mexico are Veracruz, Tabasco, and Colima, and most fruit crosses through border entries in Texas and Arizona. We have seen slow demand in the last two weeks, and we expect inventory levels to increase as we see new arrivals from Mexico and Costa Rica. Supplies from both Mexico and Costa Rica are up, and higher supplies are expected in March. Markets are expected to remain stable. March will be a great time to promote pineapples while supplies and quality will be at their highest. Quality of our fruit from Mexico is very good, with brix over 13%. Most shippers have all sizes available in the market. Please contact your Robinson Fresh sales representative with any questions.
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Weaker markets at the beginning of the week may firm up toward the back half of the week as Florida harvest volumes taper off. Mexico volumes may also decrease due to less-than-favorable markets for their growers. Please have your customers start placing Easter ads, as this time period will have limited volumes available. Oxnard, California is forecast for mostly sunny skies with highs in the 60s and lows in the 40s. Central Mexico is forecast for mostly sunny skies and very warm temps with highs in the 90s and lows in the 40s. Plant City, Florida is forecast for thunderstorms on Wednesday, becoming sunny and pleasant on Thursday and Friday, and then thunderstorms possible for the weekend. Highs are forecast in the 70s and lows in the 50s. Oxnard, California fruit has good color, occasional white shoulders, soft shoulders, pack bruising, seedy tips, and discoloration and scarring from the wind. Average counts are 20 to 22, occasionally higher and lower.
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Supplies are starting to get tight on seedless and minis as the southern Mexico crop starts to wind down. Crossings from Nogales are starting to slow down this week. Supplies will be tight until the middle of April when northern Mexico and Florida get going. Texas continues to bring in fruit from Jalisco. We will have limited supplies on seedless every week in Pelham, Georgia from the Yucatan, Mexico.

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Organic Fruits & Vegetables

We have good availability on all varieties of organic apples including organic Galas, Granny, Fuji, Pink Lady, and Honeycrisp. The tightest items are the organic Granny Smiths and the organic Honeycrisp. The crop is up over last season but only due to more orchards being converted over from conventional to organic this season. The crop was projected to be up much more before the weather issues that resulted in some crop loss. Demand is strong this year and this is keeping prices higher. The conventional market is so high this year that I expect that many organics will be also be sold as conventional. Expect demand to continue to be strong and prices to remain higher for the foreseeable future.
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Organic Dry Vegetables

Paul.Cordero@robinsonfresh.com

Mexico (through Nogales, Arizona, and McAllen, Texas), Southern California, and Florida are the main shipping points for organic dry vegetables currently. Production is steady out of Mexican and the southern U.S. growing regions of California and Florida. Demand and availability continue to be steady this week. Winter squash (butternut/spaghetti/kabocha/acorn) and soft squash (yellow and zucchini) are available in good volumes this week, as well as green beans, mini-sweet peppers, hot peppers, green bells, and 11# colored bells. Eggplant and cucumbers are available in limited volumes as well. Lots of promotional opportunities on most organic dry vegetables for the rest of March as we enter the peak of the season!
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Organic minis will gap until spring. They are expected to begin out of Hermosillo, Mexico mid-spring.
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Organic red onions out of Hollister, California at Tobias Farms are still looking good. We still have good supply and we are looking to promote over the next couple of weeks. We are peaking on jumbos but do have some mediums available that can be packed in 16/3-pound bags or 40-pound cartons.
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We still have good availability on domestically grown organic Anjou pears, but the organic domestic Bartlett pears have finished for the season. Imported organic Bartlett pears are beginning to arrive now into the ports on both coasts. There will continue to be availability on organic Anjou out of Washington for the next couple of months, and then they will be replaced by imports that will give us supply into spring and early summer.
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Center, Colorado is the place to get your deals on organic potatoes. We are looking to promote russets, reds, and yellows. Pricing is lower than it has been for a few years so it’s a good time to promote. Quality is very nice and holding well. We also have a very good supply of fingerling potatoes available out of Center, but we also have inventory at our warehouse in San Bernardino, California.
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Our season in Hollister, California has come to a finish. We had a very good year and look forward to next season. Winter squash is still going strong out of Mexico and supply is good.
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Organic Sweet Potatoes

Chris.Lemmon@robinsonfresh.com

Organic sweet potatoes are still going strong and quality has been outstanding! We have supply on all sizes and varieties at this point in the season. We have 3-pound bags, mediums, jumbos, and US#1s available in all varieties. Give us a call and we can take care of you.
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Transportation

• North America: Continued capacity crunch due to a series of nationwide weather events creating increased demand and supply constraints. Be prepared and communicate priorities with your providers early and often. C.H. Robinson is prepared to deliver during these challenging times. There will be a warming across North America this week which should ease the recent capacity struggles in heavily impacted markets and ease the constraint over the next few days.
• California: Volatility remains the constant with demand and supply tight. High import volumes and pricing attract reefers to run dry import loads.
• Midwest and Northeast: Demand continues strong against stagnant supply & Nor’ Easter weather.

Michael.Moyski@chrobinson.com
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Fresh from the kitchen

ARUGULA WITH CITRUS, BEET & AVOCADO

Ingredients

  • 1 small bunch beets (1 pound), trimmed
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons Tropicana® Fresh orange juice
  • 2 Tropicana® Fresh navel orangs, peeled and pith removed
  • 2 avocados, peeled and sliced
  • 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes, halved

Preparation

  1. Heat oven to 425 degrees F.  Wrap beets tightly in foil and roast until tender, about 1 hour.  Once cool, remove skin and slice.
  2. For dressing, whisk vinegar, orange juice, and olive oil.  Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Arrange arugula, orange segments, avocado slices, onion slices, and tomato halves on 4 to 6 individual plates.
  4. Drizzle dressing over salad and serve immediately.  Enjoy with your favorite crusty bread.

For more on this recipe, CLICK HERE.

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