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Fresh from the Field

This week’s fresh update

February 25, 2020 | Volume 7, Issue 8

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Conventional Vegetables

Retailers have made the full transition into fresh Mexican product out of the Caborca growing region. Volume has started to come on heavy and will be the main source of production from now through April. Expect to finally see favorable pricing, and a lot more promotions at retail for the balance of February and March. Weather has been ideal, and the forward-looking forecast shows highs in the 80s which is great for production. Quality has also been excellent, and fresh arrivals from Mexico hit daily.
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We are seeing great quality from Florida and this trend should continue in the short term. In a couple of weeks, we will start noticing a shortage of supply due to a bloom drop that took place about a month ago. Nogales is starting to produce a smaller sized pepper, which is creating a high demand for jumbo and XL. We do need to be aware that the great weather we have had in Florida has pushed some of the plantings ahead of schedule leading to the possible scenario for a gap down the road.
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Broccoli supply is abundant in Mexico and California. This will remain a trend for another 2-4 weeks. Florida production is still a little slow but will pick up this week.
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Cabbage supply is abundant in Florida with no expected supply gaps in the next 2-3 weeks. Demand will start to pick up the first week of March for the St. Patrick’s Day pull. Florida and Texas supplies are expected to be steady for this timeframe.
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There are excellent supplies of celery available with most growers looking to promote. Celery supplies are expected to remain plentiful over the next few weeks and overall quality is reported as excellent. The extended forecast calls for more ideal growing conditions with no major frost or rain expected over the next 10 days. The primary shipping points for celery off the west coast are Brawley, Yuma, and Oxnard.
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For the next two weeks, we expect cukes to remain active. Off -shore is coming to an end, and Florida local production is probably 2-3 weeks from starting. Mexico is hurt and volume doesn’t seem to be increasing. Apparently, a lot of the volume is staying in the domestic market. Please stay away from any promotions until the middle of March.
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Supply is abundant across all varieties of greens in Georgia and Florida. There are no supply gaps expected in the next 4-6 weeks.
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Supplies of Iceberg and most leaf lettuces are plentiful to start this week as most growers are looking to promote. Quality reports from the desert growing region show very nice appearance, clean condition, and average weights. The weather forecast calls for warmer than average into this weekend with dry conditions and a low chance of rain over the next ten days. Please reach out to your Robinson Fresh sales representative for promotional deals.
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We are locked and ready to go out of Washington, Colorado, and Alberta on the Rooster and Blonde Bella programs. Our Peruvian Sun and Anya varieties are available out of Colorado and Alberta. Looking forward, we will have Rooster and Blonde Bella available November 1st out of Prince Edward Island.
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Florida is scheduled to start new fields toward the end of next week; unfortunately, that is not helping the current situation. Squash continues to be short and both growing regions are struggling with scuffing and scarring. We continue to advise away from any squash promotions until the middle/end of March.
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Florida is staring to move into better availability and better volume. Quality is nice and the market is finally down to promotable levels. There is more volume on bi-color and yellow than white.
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Conventional Fruits

We have a large high-quality crop of apples out of the Northwest that is giving us great opportunities for great prices and more sales. Deals can be found on most varieties as they are priced to move. The one thing to note about this crop is the abundance of smaller-sized apples versus last year, with fruit peaking on 113-count to 125-count fruit, depending on the variety. Even though it is peaking on smaller fruit, there will still be plenty of large tray fruit available for everyone’s needs. Expect to see great value and great sales opportunities this season on the 3-pound bags and 5-pound bagged fruit as well as smaller sizes used in food service. Currently, there are also great promotional opportunities on all Granny Smith, Red Delicious and Fuji apples, which all currently have an abundance of fruit to move. The Pink Lady and premium Honeycrisp have become snug with prices moving up a little again this week. The import crop from Chile which runs from April through August, looks to be a normal-sized crop and will help to keep the prices low out of Washington on the key import varieties which include Gala, Cripps Pink, Fuji and Granny Smith. Apples will be a great category to continue to push for extra sales for the rest of 2020!!
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Avocado demand continues to exceed supply and pricing has remained at higher levels than previous years. Shippers are keeping their inventories low and responding to market pricing to sell all sizes before building heavy inventory. Currently, the harvest is heavy to smaller sizes from both Mexico and California.
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Blueberries
Blueberries are continuing to tighten between the downward production coming from Chile, and both Mexico and California’s low production unable to compensate the needed volumes to support U.S. demand. The blueberry market will continue to be in a demand-exceeds-supply situation for the foreseeable future.
Raspberries
Central Mexican raspberry production has been low due to cooler nighttime temperatures, pruning after the late December production glut, and being on the downward side of their current production cycles. Central Mexico should start ramping up over the next week with low temps forecast to be back up in the 50s; it will still take around 2 more weeks to get to back up to commercial volumes again. We are approximately 4 weeks out from when conventional and organic raspberries will start their spring crop in Baja, Mexico, week 12 (March 15th).
Blackberries
Blackberries continue to rebound from heavy rains and freezing temps at higher elevations over the past weeks. While blackberries are rebounding quickly, expect the market to remain snug for the next couple weeks as the domestic pipeline refills.
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Supplies are good on both coasts. FOBs have eased with demand easing as well. Offshore cantaloupe containers continue to arrive in Florida, and more are expected this week in California. Demand is expected to remain light and mostly steady. We do anticipate late-in-the-month demand improving so we will keep you posted as we draw closer.
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Oranges
California navels are in full swing and growers are consistently reporting that larger sizes are more prevalent than smaller sizes. Sizes are peaking on 56s/72s and peaking fancy over choice. We have seen larger navel prices drop drastically. As a result, 56s and larger would be a good item to promote and run on ad. Small sizes have now become very scarce, especially 138s. As a result, we have seen those prices continue to rise. Cara Caras are now available, and supplies are increasing. We do not see any rain in forecast for the California Valley so supplies should continue to be steady.
Lemons
Desert lemons in District 3 are done and new crops are now harvesting in District 1. California lemons are peaking at 115s/140s. Large lemon prices are falling quite a bit as supplies continue to exceed demand. Expecting 165s and 200s price increases soon, and larger sizes to continue falling in price. Choice lemons are very abundant and have dropped significantly. Now is a great time to promote choice lemon bags. The Mexican lemon season is over.
Grapefruit
New crops of California grapefruit have started, and supplies are starting to become limited. Texas grapefruit is in full swing and we are starting to see healthy supplies there as well. Texas grapefruit is peaking towards 48/56 count and grade is favoring fancy over choice. Growers are telling us that large- size grapefruit (32s and larger) will continue to be tight. However, you can find larger sizes here and there in smaller quantities.
Mandarins
Mandarins are in full swing in California right now. Supplies have tightened since a lot of them are being tied up by contract business. We will be keeping an eye on availability over the next few weeks. Larger sizes are still tight. We are mainly seeing 40s and smaller out there.
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Steady arrivals of both Chilean and Peruvian grapes have allowed inventories to continue building into late February. Overall market pricing continues to decline, particularly on green seedless grapes, with the red seedless grape market still a bit more firm. From a variety standpoint, multiple red seedless options (Flame/Crimson/Royal Red/Sweet Celebration/Jack Salute) are still available, with green seedless varieties (Thompson/Sugraones/Sweet Globe/Ivory) not changing much over the past few weeks. While black seedless inventories have improved, Red Globe grapes are extremely tight on both coasts. Overall, market pricing is expected to drop another $2-$4/case into early March as Chilean grape volume to the U.S. nears peak volume.
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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 continue to cross our own honeydew crop out of Colima and have decent volume on that crop this week, heavier to large sizes.
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Lime crossings are pacing about the same as last week’s crossings but are expected to be more limited as spring approaches. Past years have shown the limited volume spring market to start week 8-10. Current peak sizing is 150/175 count with 230/250 count being limited. Quality is good with limited skin breakdown or stylar.
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This week, we will be receiving the last of the Peruvian containers in the Northeast. These will be our last containers before we close out the Peruvian season. Market in the Northeast remains around $5.00-$5.50. We received our first load of Mexican Honey mangos last week. Movement on these has been slow and several shippers have decided to wait a week before bringing in anymore loads. Market on Honeys has come down but is still on the high side. We expect this to remain until we see more crossings into the U.S.
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We are seeing supply increase out of Tecoman, Colima, as we get into the last week of February. Market conditions have not changed much since last week; prices should stay firm between $20/$22 this week. We expect week-over-week increases in March to target promos for late March/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 Bartletts are done for the season. Import Bartletts from Argentina are just starting to arrive, and quality is superb. Domestically, there are plenty of Anjou and Bosc available.
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Pineapple

Pineapple (Offshore)
Gustavo.Lora@robinsonfresh.com
A high pressure system located over the Atlantic Ocean is affecting the weather in Central America, causing a strong gradient of pressure over the Caribbean Sea and, as a consequence, accelerated trade winds of up to 110 kmh are expected all over Costa Rica with light, isolated rain showers in the North and Caribbean areas. With biological age change and these conditions, harvest will be delayed, and condition will drop yields significantly. Brix levels are lower and internal condition is pale. Depending on the intensity of rains, we could again see some water spotting issues. The USDA crossing report inbound from Costa Rica is showing another very low number for week 07 at only 285 containers for the entire continental USA. The USDA is reporting moderate demand and a steady market with light supply. Forecast: Again, another lower-output week with unfavorable weather conditions at the farms in Costa Rica that continues to affect yields. Supply continues to be irregular with extremely low yields on all counts.

Pineapple (Mexican)
Jiovani.Guevara@robinsonfresh.com
Veracruz, Tabasco, and Colima are the primary Mexican growing regions for pineapples. Most of the Mexican pineapples cross by truck through border towns in Texas. There are good supplies this week with moderate demand on all sizes. Markets are stable and demand is meeting supply. Quality is good, with good brix at 13%+. Good supplies are available on all sizes, and we expect to continue to see higher volume on all sizes. Please contact your sales representative with any questions.
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Santa Maria is getting some spring crop harvests and Baja fruit will continue to increase their supplies. Markets are lower in all growing areas, especially in Mexico and Florida. Santa Maria, California, is forecast for sunny skies Wednesday, partly cloudy Thursday and Friday, mostly cloudy Saturday, and rain possible Sunday. Highs are forecast in the 70s, decreasing to the 60s for the weekend, with lows in the 50s decreasing to the 40s for the weekend. Oxnard, California, is forecast for sunny skies Wednesday, becoming partly cloudy Thursday through Saturday, and rain possible on Sunday. Highs are expected in the 70s decreasing to the 60s for the weekend, with lows in the 50s decreasing to the 40s for the weekend. Florida is forecast for thunderstorms on Wednesday, then mostly sunny for the balance of the week; highs are expected in the 70s decreasing to the 60s Thursday through the balance of the week, and lows in the 50s decreasing to the upper 30s to 40s for Thursday through the balance of the week. Mexico is forecast for mostly sunny skies with highs in the 80s and lows in the 40s. Santa Maria, California, fruit has occasional dark or discolored fruit and soft shoulders and spots due to frost damage, occasional bronzing, occasional seedy tips and dry calyx. Average counts are 14 to 16, occasionally higher and lower. Oxnard, California, fruit has bruising, white shoulder, seedy tips, bronzing and misshapen, with average counts 16 to 18, occasionally higher and lower.
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Seedless supplies are tight and supplies of minis are a little tight. Southern Mexico received a few inches of rain a couple of weeks ago. We are seeing some quality issues from the rain, bruising and a little hollow heart. We have supplies in Texas and Nogales on seedless. Southern Mexico will continue through March. We are seeing crossings on melons from Mexico into Nogales, Arizona, and Edinburg, Texas. We have good-quality minis coming from Southern Mexico which have started in Nogales. There are good supplies of offshore melons right now. Our Yucatan, Mexico, seedless crop will start in a light way for out of Georgia.
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Organic Fruits & Vegetables

We have a great crop of organic apples available out of the Northwest this season. The crop was larger than the previous year, as well as another high-quality crop. Overall, the crop increased by around 20% over the previous crop, with good supplies on all varieties. The fruit size is running a couple sizes smaller than last year so expect an abundance of smaller fruit this year which will result in many promotional opportunities on bagged fruit. We currently have good availability on all varieties, including organic Galas, Honeycrisp, Fuji, Red Delicious, Golden Delicious, and Granny Smith apples, along with many others. Expect the overall pricing to be lower this season with fantastic opportunities for promotions through spring. Import organic apples will start to arrive in April and will be available through August. More and more organic apples are being grown in Chile, so we expect this year’s crop to be larger than the previous year. This will keep pressure on the Washington pricing and provide us with good promotional opportunities right into the summer of 2020.
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Organic Consolidation

Bob.Stone@chrobinson.com

Exciting news at the Los Angeles Service Center (LASC): We now have in stock our own USA coastal San Diego premium lemons available to load here. The product is stellar! Grown on hillsides overlooking the ocean, the fruit gets warm days and cool nights meaning our fruit is tree ripened. No gassing needed here. You will not find a finer lemon. And 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 desert than is the LA Basin. We are in the heart of the citrus growing region, and 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

The early blights and abnormal weather in Mexico which have affected conventional dry vegetables have also affected organic dry vegetables. This situation continues to manifest itself in tight product and higher prices. Although the rain has abated, the cool weather is holding back the plants from bursting with product. Every day there seems to be another item that is gapping, yet it seems like we are seeing some relief in pricing and supply. However, the product which is out there is spread among a wide number of growers and regions. Therefore, feel free to call us and allow us to gather your organic dry vegetable needs.
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Organic minis are done for the season. We expect new crop from northern Mexico to begin in approximately 6 weeks.
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Organic Onions

Bob.Stone@chrobinson.com

There are still plenty of Hummingbird shallots available. We will now be filling your organic onion needs with product grown by another family farm with over 30 years of organic history. We continue to have a hot deal for you on 50-pound sacks of red or yellow jumbo onions from them. However, one note of interest is that of all varieties, yellow onions will continue to rise in price as the growers are concerned they do not have enough product to last until the new crop starts out of the desert in April. Call your sales representative for details on all sizes and colors.
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Organic D’Anjou and Bosc remain available. First arrivals of Argentine organic Bartletts have arrived. Quality is excellent and the size profile is peaking on 90 count this season.
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Organic potatoes out of Colorado are still going strong and we are continuing to see nice quality in all the Russets, reds, and yellow potatoes. As we get into March and April, we will start to see supplies dry up and we could see the market move up in pricing then. Fingerling potatoes out of Colorado are looking good as well and we are still producing the Chef Blend, Russian Banana, and French Fingerlings. Our supply out of Klamath Falls, Oregon, is holding well and we have plenty of Russet, red, and yellow potatoes out of Oregon.
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Organic hard squash and soft squash both remain at a premium. We may see some relief in the organic soft squash market in the next few weeks if the weather holds in Mexico. 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 5 to 7 weeks.
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Organic Sweet Potatoes

Chris.Lemmon@robinsonfresh.com

Organic sweet potatoes out of Livingston, California, look great. Our supplies on Beauregards, reds, whites, and Japanese are holding up well. We are starting to see supplies of medium-sized sweet potatoes tighten some and the market is moving up on them. We are still able to produce 40-pound 1s in all varieties and we can still do the 12/3-pound bags in our Tomorrow’s Organic brand.
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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

BRUSSELS SPROUTS & ASPARAGUS SOUFFLE

Ingredients

  • 6 eggs
  • 1/2 cup Half-and-half
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 bag (16 ounce) Green Giant™ Fresh Brussels Sprouts& Asparagus, chopped

… More at Brussels Sprouts & Asparagus Souffle

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