This week's fresh update

NOVEMBER 29, 2022 | Volume 8, Issue 97

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Conventional Vegetables

 

Asparagus

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The market is just starting to wake up after the holiday push; it takes a couple of days for the demand to start picking up again. Quality is good from Peru and volume is available. There are some field rotations happening in both regions in Peru to insure availability for the Christmas and New Year’s pull. Mexico production continues to be slow and there is not a lot of volume available out West.
^ Back to Conventional Vegetables

 

Bell Peppers

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More growers in Florida are starting to harvest for the first time, so we expect better volume in the upcoming weeks. We do expect Georgia to be done harvesting this week and markets to spike. Nogales is slowly seeing more crossings and volume should get better in the upcoming weeks.
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Broccoli

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Markets are extremely volatile with California being the driver due to lack of supplies. Mexico volume is crossing steadily but with the holiday demand and West production issues the markets are unsteady. Georgia is producing excellent quality but heavy rains from the tropical storm followed by cool temperatures means light supplies following the holiday.
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Cabbage

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Wisconsin has finished for the season. Georgia is going with good volume on red and green.
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Celery supplies are steady with quality reports showing overall very nice quality. Celery is currently available in Oxnard and Santa Maria. The weather forecast calls for slightly cooler than average temperatures into the weekend. Please reach out to your Robinson Fresh representative for updates and information regarding availability and promotions. 
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Cucumbers

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No major volume to be had in either Mexico or Florida. Mexico continues to battle cold weather, and Florida continues to suffer from previous storms. We expect cucumbers to remain active.
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Greens

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Supply and volume are ready to go for the Christmas holiday! Start planning your volume needs now!

 

Leaf Lettuce

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Iceberg and leaf lettuces remain limited this week with lower yields and weather being the driving factors. Yuma has started but overall numbers are down as the colder weather has impacted growth rates. Overall quality is reported as fair with some reports of seeder and growth crack. The primary loading locations are currently in Yuma and the Imperial Valley. The weather forecast calls for cooler temperatures into the weekend. Please reach out to your Robinson Fresh representative for any additional information and promotional opportunities.
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Potatoes

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Supplies are short, especially on large-sized russets out of Idaho. As demand remains strong through the holiday season, pricing will remain higher than normal and will likely remain strong for the whole season. Red, yellow, and white markets remain strong as a reaction to the russet market as well. Stay ahead of inventories as prices are only going up and the transportation portion becomes more challenging through the remainder of the holidays.

 

Squash

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We are starting to see better quality from the new growing region in Mexico, but no huge volume yet. We do expect yields to increase, but it will depend on the weather. Cooler weather is expected to hit the region. Florida continues to struggle to produce any significant volume. We expect conditions to remain the same.
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Sweet Corn

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Local programs are all but done and Georgia continues to struggle to keep up with demand. Cooler temperatures in the forecast and holiday demand could push FOBs higher. Mexico is crossing volume but look for markets to be unstable for now.
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Conventional Fruits

 

Apples

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The apple market remains tight this week as the new crop is coming in well below the normal crop size. We are projected to have around 100 million cases this year and this is compared to an average crop of around 125 to 130 million cases. This will make the third crop in a row that is considered below average. Expect product to remain tight through the New Year’s holiday with higher prices than normal throughout. The harvest is now finished and it’s all about managing inventory at this point.
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Avocados

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Mexican supply continues dominating the U.S. market; they are harvesting and shipping high volumes. The demand has stayed strong mainly on 48s and larger; however, with higher level of shipments coming in, the market continues to correct itself. There is plenty of availability on most sizes. On #2 fruit, there is more availability. At current levels and pricing, it’s a good time to be promoting all size avocados #1 and #2. The Peruvian avocado season is done. What little volume is arriving is mainly for programs. California has very little volume available. We will start seeing more Colombian inbounds; however, the European market somehow remains strong in comparison to the U.S. Some Dominican shipments are coming into the U.S., with green skin and some Hass from the Dominican Republic arriving. Chilean shipments reported to the U.S. are mainly for set programs.

 

Bush Berries

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Blueberries
There are limited supplies around the holiday. The market starting to turn as Peru is on the backside of their season. Chile is already talking about cooler temperatures and delayed inbounds which could make December a tight supply situation. Mexico will continue to ramp up through December but does not have the volume to compensate the volume difference if Peru ends early and Chile starts late. 
Raspberries
Steady supply for the next couple of weeks. Typically, December is a tighter supply month for Mexican raspberries; however, with the delayed start in October, we should see steady supply over the next two weeks. We are remaining cautious heading into mid-late December, following historical trends. 
Blackberries
Same as raspberries, quality and supplies are improving. Again, we are remaining cautious heading into mid-late December, following historical trends.

 

Cantaloupe

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Domestic cantaloupe production will be done by the middle of the week. There is only one domestic grower that still has cantaloupe to sell. Sizing is heavy to 12 count, with a few 9 count and no jumbo sizes available. Sugar is good and quality/condition are mediocre. Ground spots and misshaped fruit are the biggest issues as they finish. Offshore cantaloupe are available on the East Coast, although very light supplies.
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Citrus

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Oranges 
Navel oranges will be from the District 1 region (Fresno/Delano/Terra Bella/Bakersfield) of California for the primary shipping locations. We are currently seeing roughly 24 hours or below of gassing times, depending on the block and region. Quality is excellent with an average brix of 12! Peak sizing will be 113/88/138s, in that order. If there is opportunity to size down on a spec, this year will provide very strong pricing relief as small fruit is in abundance. The market continues to be very aggressive on smaller fruit (113/138 counts), allowing for a good time to promote small fruit. 
Lemons
Fruit will be from California with roughly 24 hours of gassing time. Good distribution on all sizes. Quality out of California is perfect! The only call-out is that lemons will have some slight greening to them as we are early in the season. 
Grapefruit
Fruit will be from Texas/Florida/California. Texas has started but the crop still has not fully rebounded % from the 2021 freeze. Volume in Texas is operating at roughly 70% of normal volume. Florida is hit or miss depending on where the groves are located. Hurricane Nicole hit clean-up on a few regions which will end the season for some growers entirely in Florida. The season for California is roughly a month away from any significant volume; look for an earlier switch. Sizing in Texas and Florida is peaking on 48/40s, in that order. The fruit is eating okay but flavor is expected to improve in the coming months.
Mandarins
Morocco is getting a late start this year; they are pushed back roughly 2-3 weeks. The crop is down 25% year over year. California is off and running and going strong! Look for aggressive pricing in December for mandarins.

 

Grapes

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December will be a mix of California and new import fruit that has been arriving on the East Coast and soon to the West Coast. California Autumn Kings are still in good supply with quality holding up nicely. Reds are seeing more issues with soft berries, shatter, and light color. Retailers might want to make the switch early if they begin to see rejections on California fruit. Imports are available now, mostly on the East Coast, with some West Coast arrivals set for this week and more the following. We will see more arrivals on greens than reds, making for a lot of demand for strong, fresh Peruvian reds. The market should have a good supply of Peruvian fruit by mid-month, giving options to retailers looking to make the switch.
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Honeydew

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Domestic honeydew production is done for the year. North Mexican honeydew is still shipping out of Nogales with good volume. Demand is sluggish and shippers are looking to make deals on volume. The Mexican honeydew are clean with good sugar. All sizes are available.
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Region: Veracruz, Mexico 
Currently, the crop is peaking on 175/200/150s. The forecast is showing rain which might hinder the harvesting schedule. The demand for limes has been moderate. According to the USDA, the crossings through Texas from last week were at 492; over the weekend, 264 cases were reported as of Monday. Sizing profile is peaking on sizes 175/200/150; size distribution is 110-16%, 150-19%, 175-21%, 200-18%, 230-15%, and 250-11%. The amount of useable fruit is at 71% due to high amounts of oil spots. Looking ahead, expect size distribution to shift in the next two weeks to large fruit with small fruit becoming less available.

 

Mangos

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Ecuador 
• Volumes from Ecuador will start to decrease as we have passed the peak harvesting weeks. We will be seeing more Kents now arriving in December with predominant sizes being 10/9s, followed by 8s. 
• We have seen really good quality on Ecuadorian mango, arriving with good color and pressure. We also have seen a bit of sunken shoulders, but not percentages to be concerned about. 
• Crop outlook for Ecuadorian fruit is about 50% large sizes (6-9 counts), followed by 50% on small sizes (10/12 counts). 
• We will continue to receive Ecuadorian fruit in the U.S. until the end of December with an overlap from Peru the last weeks of December. 
• We will be delivering product to a few ports of entries (West Coast, Miami, and Philadelphia). 
• Ecuadorian large fruit will be limited from the crop reports that we have received from our growers. Expect pricing on large Ecuadorian fruit to maintain itself for weeks to come. For small fruit, we expect market to be more flexible as there will be good availability on 10 count. 
Peru 
• Peru is planned to start packing for us this week. Volume will be low to start and will pick up rapidly early January. We will see the peak volume arriving to the U.S. from Peru during the 2-3 weeks of January. Expect good volumes and availability during late January/February. 
• Total volume projections this season from Peru as a country are around 18 million cases of mango compared to the 16 million that were sent last year. 
• Preliminary reports are showing good quality on the Kent variety with sizing being mainly on the 9/10 count mango, followed by 8 count. As of right now, there are no quality concerns on fruit. 
• Crop outlook for Peru is about 50% large sizes (6-9 counts), followed by 50 % on small sizes (10/12 counts) 
• We will be receiving only the Kent variety from Peru this season. 
• There is still little information on what the market from Peru will look like as there is not much volume in the market, though we do expect large sizes to continue to price strong throughout the season. As for small sizes, we are expecting mainly 10 count, with very minimal 12 count. Pricing should be strong as well on these for the season. 
^ Back to Conventional Fruits

 

Papaya

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The papaya growing regions are currently under mostly cloudy conditions with low chances of rain. Highs are expected near 86F and lows of 65F. Winds are forecast North at 10 miles per hour. Chances of rain are at less than 10%. Good volume is expected for December with quality reported as good and NO major issues at this time. Majority of sizes are between 8s, 9s, and 12s. Overall quality is reported as good with the fruit showing some speckling. Some skin water spots are present but minor and considered purely appearance related. Forecast for good supply remains for the rest of the month. There is enough supply to service demand, but some delays are being generated by a tight truck market in Mexico.

We are now shipping new crop Bartlett, red pears, Anjou, and Bosc pears out of Washington and Oregon. The crop is smaller than last year in overall cases and prices are expected to remain higher as a result. The pears did not grow as large as last year, so we are expecting a tight market on the large US#1 fruit and more supply on the smaller or bagging fruit. Overall, we expect pricing on all sizes and packs to be higher than last year due to the smaller crop and inflationary costs.
^ Back to Conventional Fruits

 

Pineapple

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We are experiencing higher humidity in Central America with cloudy conditions and some precipitation over most of the Costa Rica territory. Quality is reported as good with no heavy rainfall forecast for the next few days. Weather in Veracruz, Mexico, is reported as partly cloudy with chances of some rainfall, highs of 78F, and lows of 74F. Winds are expected North at 10 miles per hour, and the chance of rain at 85%. Some delays on harvest are expected due to weather conditions. Quality of the fruit is reported as good with solid brix and very clean internal condition. Volume will continue to be mostly on 6s and 7s with tight supply on 8 count. There is limited availability of Mexican fruit in Texas with tighter supply of 8s continuing. The USDA total pineapple crossing report for week 47 is showing a significantly lower number of inbounds at just below 900 loads crossing for the entire continental USA. The USDA is reporting demand as fairly light and market about steady.

 

Strawberries

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Product availability is very limited this week in the California growing areas. Mexico production is just starting, but there should be better volume in the next couple of weeks. Santa Maria, California, is forecast on Wednesday for periods of sun, Thursday cool with drizzle, Friday cloudy and cool, Saturday cloudy and cool with a possible shower, and showers on Sunday. Highs are expected in the low 60s, decreasing to the 50s Friday through the weekend, and lows in the 40s. Oxnard, California, is forecast on Wednesday for sunshine and patchy clouds, Thursday cloudy, cool, and misty, Friday occasional afternoon rain, Saturday mostly cloudy and cool, and mostly cloudy and cool with some showers on Sunday. Highs are expected in the 60s, decreasing to the 50s for Friday through the weekend, and lows in the upper 40s to low 50s. California fruit is generally fair quality, firm with inconsistently sized berries, occasional bruising, misshapen, and white shoulders.
^ Back to Conventional Fruits

 

Watermelon

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Watermelons and minis continue to be tight. We expect the market to be very tight in December and January. South Florida is also going with a little bit of supply. Out West, Northern Mexico is winding down over the next week. Southern Mexico will start after the first of the year. We are shipping out of Edinburg, Texas, and Nogales, Arizona. Offshore will start in December.
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Organic Fruits & Vegetables

 

Organic Apples

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We are now shipping all varieties of organics including organic Gala, Granny Smith, Honeycrisp, Fuji, and Pink Lady apples. Due to the crop being smaller this year, the pricing on all organic varieties is starting off much higher than last season. Expect these higher prices to last for the entire season. At this point, it appears that the organic Gala and organic Granny will be the tightest this season. The quality of the fruit is reported to be good so far.
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Organic Dry Vegetables

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This week in Nogales supply is varied on different items. Hard squash has volume on acorn and butternut, whereas Delicata and spaghetti are limited this week. Pricing is dependent on size. Zucchini fancy is available all week but in limited numbers. Yellow squash is not available this week. Cucumbers are limited with Euro cucumbers very limited. Eggplant and green beans have volume this week. Colored bells are on a day-to-day basis and limited due to cold weather.
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Organic Melons

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Mini organics are done until next year in the spring.
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Organic Onions

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Our red onion program out of Hollister is still going strong and we have very good supply of 40# jumbo cartons. We are able to do a 16/3# medium onion as well. Market is holding and fairly strong.
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Organic Pears

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Organic Bartlett pears, Anjou, and Bosc are now shipping out of Washington State and Oregon. The crop this year will be smaller than both last year and an average crop year. Sizing is running a little smaller this year compared to normal, so we expect there to be more bagging fruit as a result. Pricing is higher than last year due to the smaller crop this season. We expect the organic Bartletts to finish early this year as most growers will wrap up their season in the next week or so. Quality has been very good so far.
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Organic Potatoes

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Colorado potato season is in full swing, and the quality is very good on the russet and yellow potatoes! Red potatoes are showing a little skinning but, overall, a very solid potato and a good value. Fingerling potatoes are great and available!
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Organic Squash

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Our winter squash program out of Hollister, California, is down to its last variety. We have butternut squash for about one more week. There are still plenty of hard squash varieties available coming down South and we can help you out from there.
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Organic Sweet Potatoes

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The sweet potato market is still strong. Supply is still a little on the tight side on a couple different sizes but, with advance orders, you can get them done! Going into the holiday season, the quality is outstanding, and promotions are available!
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Transportation

Temperature-Controlled Shipping 
Fall refrigerated season creates demand as anticipated while the overall temperature-control market softens. This fall, the market consists of commodities like apples, pumpkins, as well as frozen goods supporting holiday cooking and baking season. Currently, the Upper Midwest is experiencing meaningful tension as the region ships out sugar beets, potatoes, and other fall vegetables. The Pacific Northwest shipping continues with apples. Fuel, parts, and maintenance are a cost focus for refrigerated carriers. Increased carrier cost impacts remain material for the refrigerated truckload community. Carriers' costs of operation have continued to climb, especially for refrigerated carriers with refrigeration diesel fuel costs to consider on top of diesel for driving and labor, along with maintenance cost increases, among others. With pricing compressed as it is, carriers are looking for ways to reduce fuel and occasionally choose to set their refrigerated units on 'cycle', lowering the fuel need, but bringing increased temperature variation to the trailers and goods. C.H. Robinson works closely with our contract carriers on temperature expectations to help safeguard the quality of goods in transit. Work with experts in temperature control. Connect with our experts to learn more about how seasonal and supply imbalances affect your business, and how our unique refrigerated transportation procurement and capacity solutions can help your shipping strategy for the next market cycle.

Perishables Ocean/Ports/Drayage Updates 

USA Ocean Port Congestion
Port Congestion has been a topic of concern for many years, not just in the ocean environment, but at rail and air as well. Carriers arrive the freight and are facing unprecedented waiting times to unload at the ports, as terminals are already full and/or lack personnel to off-load cargo and distribute the balance to consignees. The contributing factors of port congestion lie with labor disruptions, larger capacity vessels, chassis shortages, container shortages, infrastructure shortfalls, consignee receiving limitations, terminal inefficiencies, trucking industry shortages, and limitations of data analytics of true cargo readiness. 
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 their space demands for upcoming seasons and spot-market space on vessels is nearly impossible to secure. 
Container Gridlock
The result is chronic gridlock at many Latin American and United States ports. Ships are stranded offshore for possibly days to sometimes weeks at a time. Drayage truckers often sit in line for hours upon hours "hoping" for a chance to pick up the freight they have been dispatched to return to the port for export or deliver to the warehouse for consumption into the retain supply chain. 
Impact on Imports and Exports
The impact is not just with imports; it is with exports as well. A significant amount of U.S. exports are agriculture related. With these exports, some are perishable; with delays resulting from cargo constraints or delayed bookings, not only does this jeopardize the quality of the product but also U.S. global market share and competitiveness. Many export associations are revealing data demonstrating where their industry is losing global market share as they cannot complete orders. Services to east coast South America ports have reduced capacity by approximately 25% and blank sailings to west coast South America ports have increased to approximately 32% of capacity because of space constraints and severe congestion at the trans-shipment hubs. 
Refrigerated Vessel Capacity
Vessel demand and overall capacity issues are beginning to improve moving into the winter "peak season" months. The lack of vessel space 2020 through 2022 was primarily caused by vessel delays and container turnaround taking capacity out of the market. Demand is finally slowing, and vessel delays improving, which are combining to improve capability (reported first in June 2022). Booking SPACE on board certain vessels remains challenging; there remain chassis shortages, new surcharges from ocean carriers like "peak season surcharges" are now being added or increased, and labor shortages in logistics continue to impact the entire global produce logistics sector. Robinson Fresh is currently learning of tight capacity and lack of space on vessels from Peru to California. 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. Robinson Fresh has experienced unavoidable and unprecedented demurrage and detention charges in 2022 due to delays in turning cargo at destination. 
Refrigerated Container Rates
While some routes such as Asia to United States have seen container rates decrease (mostly for general consumer goods), South America to North America routes have not yet seen any decreases in ocean container rates. Global refrigerated container rate pricing has seen anywhere from 10%-30% rate increases when comparing 2021 to 2022 rates. The elevated rates for Latin America to USA routes for refrigerated cargo are expected to remain at their 2022 levels for the remainder of 2022 and into 2023. Shippers should watch for "peak season" and fluctuating fuel surcharges which are added to high rates and which ocean carriers are slow to remove. Delays can also be costly in terms of extra demurrage/detention, for example. 
 
For more global freight insights, please visit Global Freight Market Insights | C.H. Robinson (chrobinson.com).

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Fresh from the kitchen

Fresh Guacamole

There’s nothing like fresh, homemade guacamole made with ripe avocados. This authentic guacamole is easy and delicious.

Ingredients
  • 3 large ripe avocados (mashed)
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lime juice (plus more to taste)
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
  • 1/2 jalapeno (seeds removed and finely chopped)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
  • 1 Roma tomato (seeds removed and chopped, optional)

Instructions

  1. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl.
  2. Serve immediately with tortilla chips.

Link here for additional information.

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