Freshspective

Wednesday, May 21, 2024 | Issue 145

Keep up with the most recent market trends in our Freshspective updates. Discover what's influencing conventional produce, organic options, temperature controlled capacity, and floral so you can plan ahead and avoid disruption.

Conventional Vegetables

Asparagus . Bell Peppers . Broccoli . Cabbage . Celery . Cucumbers . Greens . Leaf Lettuce . Potatoes . Squash . Sweet Corn

 

Asparagus

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The asparagus industry has fully transitioned to Peru. We have our Trujillo growers already going in full production and have some fields in Ica that are starting to produce. We are also locally sourcing for some programs and have Canadian product available.  Product in all regions has good quality with a tendency toward low sizes which is a normal occurrence at the start of the season. As we get more into the Peruvian season in the next 2-3 weeks, we will start seeing bigger sizes available. Regarding local production, we expect to see more sizing next week.  We have good volume arriving from all shipping points.  Connect with us and start planning programs to push volume! We can offer weekly and monthly programs.

 

 

Bell Peppers

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Georgia will have better availability this week as we are finally seeing some dry and sunny weather.   We expect volume to be in great shape to promote as we head into week 23.  Coachella continues to be in the mix. 

 

Broccoli

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Many growers in Georgia are finishing for the season as the hot summer weather sets in. 

 

Cabbage

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There is good supply of all 3 cabbage varieties at our farm in Georgia. We anticipate going for about another week and a half. Significant rain in Georgia has slowed the harvesting. North Carolina has started in a small way as well. 

Celery supplies are in decent shape this week with the primary shipping point being in Oxnard, California. Salinas and Santa Maria will be starting in early June. Overall quality is fair with some soil-related issues being reported at field level. Please reach out to your Robinson Fresh sales representative for more details. 

 

Cucumbers

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Florida continues to harvest, but the extreme heat is starting to have an impact.  Georgia’s volume has dropped some, but we expect volume to bounce back this week with the much-needed sunny weather.  We are seeing some scarring but nothing severe.  This fruit has gone through a lot of weather.   .           

 

Greens

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The recent weekend rains have affected the supply of turnip and mustard greens, resulting in very limited availability. However, collard greens and kale have managed better through the wet conditions. See your Robinson Fresh representative today!

 

Leaf Lettuce

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Iceberg lettuce is limited this week due to planting gaps caused by spring rains and summer varietal changes currently taking place. Romaine and leaf lettuces were in a similar situation over the last few weeks but have now rebounded with good supplies available this week. Overall quality is nice with occasional lightweights reported. The primary shipping locations are Salinas and Santa Maria. Please reach out to your Robinson Fresh sales representative for more details. 

 

Potatoes

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Florida will be finished in the next two weeks on reds and yellows as the crops will start to transition up the Atlantic Coast.  Quality out of Florida is still outstanding.  Russet Norkotahs are winding down out of Idaho.  There are still excellent supplies of Russet Burbanks; however, they have a smaller size profile than the Norkotahs.  Look for large-count cartons to tighten up a bit, but there are plenty of smaller sizes and consumer packs.

The amount of rain and high wind last week, along with 6 inches this weekend, has led to some major losses on squash in Georgia.  Growers are having to leave heavy scarring and scuffing fruit behind; hence, lowering overall yields.  Product is short all around as Georgia is the only game in town.  North Carolina has also been exposed to some wet/overcast weather, so no volume yet.  

 

Sweet Corn

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Florida is at the tail end of production. Georgia has plenty of corn for the Memorial Day holiday pull. California is also producing, as is Texas. There is a lot of product available at promotable prices. 
  

 

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Conventional Fruits

Apples . Avocados . Bush Berries . Cantaloupe . Citrus . Grapes . Honeydew . Limes . Mangos . Papaya . Pears . Pineapple . Strawberries . Watermelon

Apples

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We still have pretty good supplies of apples out of Washington as well as imports this week. Most varieties and packs have good availability and quality is holding up very nicely as well. Supplies out of storage in Washington are still above average for this time of year on many varieties. Imports from Chile and Argentina are now in full swing and adding some supply to this market and will continue into the summer. There are a few varieties and packs that have tightened a little and are showing some price increases. The items that are firming up are the Gala trays and bags with 88 count and larger trays the tightest.  Also, the Honeycrisp are starting to show some tightening on some of the sizes and grades but particularly the premium high-color fruit.  Overall, we still have a large crop of apples to sell, and I expect to see attractive pricing on most varieties into the early summer months this year. Apples will remain a good category to promote for the next couple of months with its predictable supply of high-quality fruit.

 

Avocados

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Mexico logs in 3 straight weeks of less than 1,000 containers (777 containers last week) as other countries of origin add in missing tonnage from the market. We see higher oil content and an increase of Negra fruit as we continue toward the end of the season in June.  Availability and willingness to cut remain high and pricing per kilo ensures that the flow of avocados through the end of the season will be steady.  Shelf space planning will dictate the true need of containers coming in from Mexico as it is willing to let other countries of origin fill in to maintain price points.
• Even though shipments of containers have been under 1,000 for 3 weeks, inventories have remained high as retail velocity is slower.
• Some weakness in pricing as overall Cinco de Mayo pulls were almost 10% lower than last year.
• Loca crop will be available prior to July 1st if dry matter reaches 24% before that date.  Japan and Canada will allow 21% and shipments to those countries have already started in Jalisco.
• Supply and quality of fruit is excellent!
• Some stressed fruit in many regions is not going to be able to be shipped to the U.S. as fruit shows low PSI on the trees.

 
California-Colombia-Chile-Peru

They may contribute slightly.  Combined, they are a minimum 25% of the total volume coming into the USA.

 

Bush Berries

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Blueberries - Rain in the forecast through the week in Georgia and North Carolina.  We will be loading blues in Georgia and North Carolina this week due to some rain events and for best coverage of fruit.  We are still harvesting in Georgia, but we have seen quality dip with the amount of rain they saw last week.  This week will see an increase in volume from North Carolina compared to last week.  Last week’s harvests were shortened due to multiple rain days and overcast weather throughout the week.  This week’s weather looks clear and hot until the weekend so volumes will be strong this week. Due to that planning, we are not seeing splits and softs in the fruit today. New Jersey fruit is on pace to start by 6/14th-17th.

Blackberries -  Stablesupply and demand across the board. Central Mexican production is moving into post-peak with the end of the season still expected in early June, then transitioning to California and the Southeast. From here on out, we should see stable to slowly increasing pricing conditions until June (weather permitting). Georgia is only one week away, pending any weather disruptions..

Raspberries - Volume is starting to meet supply.  Production remains light out of Mexico with demand exceeding supply daily. Mexico and early California volumes are still currently 40% under expectations, but we should start to see the next cyclical "peak" by mid-to-late May, once California comes more into play. A lot of quality issues have been noted over the past few weeks as Central Mexico berries have not been able to make the 5-7 trip to East Coast. California weather has not been warm enough to turn on any real volume. Still picking cases but next week they should be in pallet volume.


Cantaloupe

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Domestic cantaloupes have started out of the desert in Maricopa and Aguila, Arizona, as well as Holtville and Brawley, California. To start the domestic season, the crop is producing small sizes with mostly 12 and 15 counts. This is predominantly due to cooler weather and high winds during the grower season, especially in March. The desert did not see temperatures with good heat indexes until late April/early May, causing the first cuts to be small. With warmer weather on the horizon, growers are anticipating larger sizes in the coming weeks. 

 

Citrus

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California Citrus:

Oranges: The crop is peaking on larger fruit and there are deals to be had on 36, 40, and 48-count Navels.  Quality remains nice with good eating characteristics.  
More and more packing houses have started production on Valencias. These things taste great and have a ton of juice!  Small sizes are going to be tight throughout the summer as 72 count and larger will have the best prices and availability.  

Cara Cara Oranges: Caras are still in production and you will see shipping through the end of May. The crop is heavier to choice and would be best suited in bags.

Lemons: The lemon market has been steadily getting tighter out of California as we are starting to see District 1 fruit with quality concerns.  District 2 has been in production, but the focus here will be for better quality which will continue to put pressure on prices until Argentina starts on the East Coast.

Grapefruit: California is currently producing the Star Ruby variety which will go through June, peaking on larger fruit (32/36/27 counts).  Quality is showing nice blush with a nice internal color and flavor.

 

Import Citrus:

Mandarins: We will start to see early Peruvian varieties (Satsumas and Primosoles) in the market which could serve a value need. 

Lemons: It has been a slower start from Argentina due to rain in the growing region. We will be starting to load out of Argentina and should be seeing  availability in the Northeast.  The lemon crop in Argentina is still peaking on larger fruit, so we will continue to see strong markets on smaller fruit.

 

 

Grapes

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Mexico grapes have officially started picking on both colors today. There are numerous growers crossing Flames to go along with the green Early Sweets that have been around since last week. Importers on the East Coast are still receiving fresh arrivals of Chilean table grapes, but their window to move through this fruit is starting to close. Crossings of Mexican fruit into Nogales, Arizona, are increasing every day and most retailers will look to transition completely once they can cover all their needs. Pricing for Chilean fruit has dropped significantly, and quality is starting to decline as well. This is putting some early pressure on the spot market for Mexican fruit that could help transition at better pricing than anticipated for early Mexico fruit. 

 

Honeydew

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Currently, honeydews are being harvested in Northern Mexico out of the Hermosillo region. The crop is into the later part of the season and producing more 6- and 8-count sizing, with few 5 counts available. Domestic honeydews are becoming available out Maricopa, Arizona, and will start out of Yuma, Arizona, and Brawley, California, within the next few weeks. 

 

Limes

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Region: Veracruz, Mexico
Crop Update: 
Currently, the crop is peaking on 200/230/175s.  The weather forecast is showing high temperatures without any rain.
Market Intel: 
The demand for limes has been steady. According to the USDA, the crossings through Texas from last week were at 417.
Sizing Profile:
Peak sizes are 200/230/175s.  Size distribution is 110-3%, 150-9%, 175-23%, 200-29%, 230-22%, and 250-14%.
Quality: 
Quality issues being reported include oil spots, blanching, scarring, and skin breakdown.  
Looking Ahead:
For the next two weeks, the volume will increase especially on mid-range sizes. 

 
 

Mangos

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The region of Oaxaca has officially ended for the 2024 season; last loads will be shipped this week. 
Michoacán is currently shipping heavier on Tommy Atkins, but will start Kent production toward the end of this week. Sizing is expected to peak on 8/9s, followed by 7s and few 12s. 
The region of Nayarit is just starting with Honeys peaking on 18s, 20s and 22s. Red mango production is still low from this region as it just started, but we expect an increase the first week of June.
We have seen an overall low demand on mango movement this past two weeks, but we do expect this to change after the Memorial Day weekend where we will be seeing more action from consumers buying more mango as we get into the summer months.


 

Papaya

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SUPPLY NOT MEETING DEMAND FOR PAPAYA IN THE U.S. MARKET.
Supply conditions remain tight but improving with some surplus product reported on small fruit. Prices have come down slightly in the U.S. market with crop yields in Mexico reacting better to the warmer weather. Weather conditions in Mexico are improving with yields increasing slowly, improving the forecast for the next few weeks. Inventories remain SOLD OUT but there’s some small fruit to offer for transactional sales. Prices in Mexico are expected to remain high keeping the lion share of the fruit in the local Mexican market and reducing the overall availability of papaya for the U.S.  Growers will continue working on securing good-quality product to keep up with U.S. demand. Pricing is high but lower than previous weeks, with supply NOT meeting demand in the U.S. market.
Majority of sizes are between 12s to 16s with NO surplus in ANY calibers.  Quality is reported as good with fruit showing clean skin and little scarring, and a bit more speckling on the latest arrivals.
Crop outlook is for tight supply for next two weeks.  There is not enough supply to service demand with prices trending higher in Texas.

 
 
 

Pears

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We are currently shipping both green and red Anjou pears out of the Northwest this week. The market on Anjou pears has tightened significantly over the last month and prices have jumped up as a result. The movement on Anjou has been exceptionally strong this year and we will see higher prices from now until the crop finishes sometime this summer. The tightest fruit is the high-quality large fruit which will become more scarce as the year goes on. The Bartlett pears have finished out of Washington, but we now have imported Bartlett pears arriving at East Coast ports this week. The Bosc pear crop is now finished out of Washington, but there are imports arriving from Chile and Argentina, available on the East Coast. Overall, expect to see higher prices than last year on pears for the remainder of the summer.

 

Pineapple

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• Availability: Supply is NOT meeting demand in the U.S. market.
• Growing Region: MEXICO’s volume is improving with better weather at the growing fields. Most of the country’s production is still being sold internally with a good market in Mexico helped by a strong Mexican peso. As supply improves, Mexican growers will still look at the U.S. market as the next best outlet to place their crop as they weigh the pros and cons of exporting their product. Transportation out of Mexico is currently stable with better availability of trucks to service pineapple shippers.  Mexican fruit quality is meeting U.S. specs with GOOD internal condition and high brix. Prices are high on all counts out of Mexico and Costa Rica.  COSTA RICA’s volume remains low AT PACKING with improvement expected the last weeks of May. NO surplus fruit is available to pack currently. The U.S. market remains high on all counts with supply NOT meeting demand. Costa Rica is under mixed sunny to rainy conditions with some fair weather expected this week.
•    Quality & Condition: Mexico has good fruit condition and high brix with larger fruit most abundant.  Weather has been good for pineapple production. Costa Rica’s quality is reported as good with sizing curve mostly on smaller fruit.  
•    Movement: The USDA is showing a low number of loads crossing with 1,000 containers crossing FROM Costa Rica for the entire continental USA. This continues to be a low number for this time of year. 
•    Forecast: Some surplus fruit is available at specific shipping points, currently being offered by large grower/shippers. The market is higher with good demand this week. 

 

 

Strawberries

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California has good production in Santa Maria and the Salinas/Watsonville growing areas.  California fruit has occasional bruising, light shoulders, green tips and misshapen.  Medium to large sizing.  Santa Maria for the week of 5/20 is forecast to be cool with low clouds, giving way to sun.  Highs are expected in the 60s and lows in the 50s.  For the week of 5/27, the forecast is for mostly sunny with highs in the 60s and lows in the 50s. Salinas/Watsonville for the week of 5/20 is forecast to be cool with intervals of clouds and sun. Highs are expected in the 60s and lows in the 40s. The week of 5/27 is forecasted to be mostly sunny with highs in the 60s and lows in the upper 40s to low 50s.

 
 

Watermelon

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Look for demand to drop off after the Memorial Day holiday.  Supplies are dropping off a bit as well.  North Florida is just starting up and supplies are a bit tight without lead time.  Southern Florida is wrapping up for another week or two.  Edinburg, Texas is going but they got hit with rain this past weekend and most farms are a bit behind on orders.  Nogales is peaking on minis this week.  Run lots of mini 8/9-count advertisements after the holiday seedless advertisements!  Seedless are starting to wind down from Northern Mexico.  Expect Arizona to start in mid-June.  June will be a good month to switch advertisements between minis and seedless.  

 

Organic Fruits & Vegetables

Organic Apples . Organic Dry Vegetables . Organic Melons . Organic Onions . Organic Pears . Organic Potatoes . Organic Squash . Organic Sweet Potatoes

 

Organic Apples

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We had a large crop of organic apples this year for most varieties. There are decent supplies in storage of organic Gala, organic Granny, and organic Fuji, as well as other less popular varieties. The organic Pinks did have some freeze damage at the end of the year, so supplies of this variety will be less as we enter summer. We are now seeing some of the smaller organic growers finish for the season. This is resulting in an uptick in prices in the last couple of weeks on some of the varieties. Overall, we have good supplies and great quality on the organics this year, which gives us a great opportunity to grow this category this season.

 

Organic Dry Vegetables

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The weather has played a big part in the dry vegetable market.  Weather down in the South has been rough and rainy, causing all kinds of issues with supply and quality.  Most of the dry vegetables coming out of Mexico are starting to show up more in San Diego than in Nogales.
 

 

Organic Melons

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We have great supplies on organic minis in Nogales for the next couple of weeks.  Now is a great time to promote organic minis or do a fast-attack advertisement!  

 

Organic Onions

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The organic onion market continues to be very tight.  We are still seeing some onions come out of Mexico, but supply is limited.  We will start to see more onions become available out of California over the next month. Until then, expect markets to remain high.

 

Organic Pears

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We still have some supplies of organic Anjou out of the Northwest this week and the quality is still good. Organic Bartletts are finished out of Washington, but we are now seeing good volumes of imported organic Bartletts arriving from Argentina. The quality is reported to be good this season on imports.

 

Organic Potatoes

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We are still getting a good supply of organic potatoes coming from Washington and Colorado.  Quality on the russets and yellows are holding up but the reds are rough.  California potatoes have started and the red and yellow potatoes are beautiful!  The market on them is strong but there is availability.  Russets will start at the end of next week.  The markets out of Washington and Colorado are fairly priced right now.
 

Organic Squash

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Supply of the hard squash coming out of Mexico is still very good.  The change of areas has helped the quality.  Our Tobias Farms program will be available by late August.

 

Organic Sweet Potatoes

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California sweet potatoes are still going strong, though the market has continued to firm up as supply tightens some.  We are starting to see certain sizes, i.e., mediums/jumbos, needing a few days to cover orders as they are not readily available day to day.

Transportation

Market cycle conditions remained soft as we near the close of May, but there are signs of volume increases as the produce season ramps up. While we expect the overall impact to remain fairly muted due to general market cycle weakness, there will be pockets of tightness. To combat this, work with your account team to provide visibility to supply chain needs so they can build the proper lead time and flexibility into the loads.
 
East Coast – Throughout the East Coast, loads continue to move with a high level of velocity. Produce season has started in South Florida with select commodities. We should see it in full swing from May through July.  We’re not expecting significant issues with coverage.
Central U.S. – Capacity markets through the Mid-North and Mid-South regions remain soft. No foreseeable disruptions through June. South Texas produce season will begin in the coming weeks; due to the market softness, we don’t expect overwhelmingly large cost increases.
West Coast – The Pacific Northwest has moved beyond any weather disruptions and capacity is available. There was some slight tension through the Easter holiday, but nothing lasting. Transition season is in full swing as harvesting moves from Arizona to the Salinas, California region. Work with your C.H. Robinson team to stay informed on regionalized opportunities and how to best schedule freight to capitalize on the best price and service.

 

GLOBAL UPDATES 

PANAMA CANAL - The Panama Canal is facing challenges due to both delays and drought, impacting operations. The drought has caused water levels in the canal to drop, making it difficult for vessels to pass through efficiently.  Recently, shippers have noticed a reduction in disruptions caused by low water levels along the Panama Canal. Carriers are resuming transits through the waterway for certain east-west services, and they are also exploring alternative options to transport cargo. 

 

PORT OF SAVANNAH - In October, the Port of Savannah experienced robust activity, handling 449,000 TEUs, marking its fourth busiest month on record and registering a notable 5% increase compared to the same month in 2019, which was unaffected by the Pandemic. This growth suggests that the Port of Savannah is not only handling increased overall cargo but is also strategically investing in infrastructure to accommodate the specific needs of the fresh produce sector. With a focus on facilitating trade and improving efficiency, the Port of Savannah aims to provide a more conducive environment for handling perishable goods. The expansion aligns with broader efforts to meet growing demands and underscores the port’s commitment to maintaining its status as a key gateway for imports, offering world-class services to its customers. This development is likely to have positive implications for the agricultural and perishable goods industries, fostering smoother and more reliable transportation of produce through the port. As the Port of Savannah continues to invest in its infrastructure and capacity, stakeholders in the produce import sector can anticipate improved handling processes, reduced bottlenecks, and an overall more streamlined experience. The expansion not only reflects the port’s adaptability to growing trade volumes, but also signals a commitment to meeting the specialized needs of industries such as fresh produce, contributing to the port’s significance as a vital trade hub in the region. 

 

OCEAN CARRIER CONSOLIDATION - Fresh produce growers and shippers attempting to move cargo globally via ocean vessels are dealing with scenarios where ocean carriers genuinely dictate some markets.  They dictate and determine the marketability and viability of export markets for many fresh produce exporters.  Shippers are being forced to commit earlier to ocean lines to reserve space for upcoming seasons, and spot market space on vessels is nearly impossible to secure. 

 

RED SEA SHIPPING CRISIS – Hundreds of ships are currently diverting around Africa to avoid attacks in the Red Sea, causing delays to global trade and inflicting months of disruption and imminent price rises on supplies. The crisis has led to doubling insurance costs and soaring demands for security services, which has raised prices and affected availability of fresh produce from Africa and Australia.  

 

DEMURRAGE/DETENTION CHARGES - Shippers negotiating with ocean carriers or freight forwarders on perishable cargo contracts should request as much free time at destination as possible to reduce the risk of detention/demurrage charges when inspections/fumigations or drayage capacity constraints delay cargo delivery at destination.  Unavoidable and unprecedented demurrage and detention charges due to delays in turning cargo at destination continue in 2024. 

 

For more global freight insights please visit Global Freight Markets Insights | C.H. Robinson (https://www.chrobinson.com/en-us/resources/insights-and-advisories/global-forwarding-insights/

Floral

Product is still short at farm level as most plants were depleted for Mother’s Day. Demand is also high at retail level as they are trying to rebuild stock on hand. Air freight from origin is also tight as airlines go back to the regular frequency with demand still high due to all the restock product.