You might have things to thank this year, but fresh food buyers find it hard to count their blessings. Limited supply, marginal quality and high prices plague all aspects of the fresh produce industry.
Of course, the average producer needs price increases to compensate for lower yields and rising costs of production. Combined with the typical Thanksgiving holiday pull, the fresh produce industry is registering record prices for staples like potatoes, onions and lettuce.
Consumers are in a wake-up call. Labor shortages, inclement weather and skyrocketing truck costs are fueling an inflation blaze that is already roaring with enthusiasm. As economists debate the nuances of transient versus persistent inflation, you should just expect higher prices.
In response, Walmart, determined to overcome supply chain challenges and ready to shock a few unsuspecting Arkansas drivers, is launching more self-driving trucks.
Of the 3.5 million truck drivers in the United States, only 300,000 to 500,000 are “long haul”, this is where the driver shortage is most severe. With tough working conditions, high turnover and an aging workforce (average 48 years old), it is wise to stay with this systemic problem. Truck shortages are expected to worsen further during the holiday season.
Blue Book has partnered with ProduceIQ BB #: 368175 to bring the ProduceIQ Index to its readers. The index provides a benchmark of commodity industry prices using 40 major commodities to provide data for decision making.
ProduceIQ Index: $ 1.04 / lb, -2.8% from the previous week
Week # 45, ending November 12
Dry onions continue to soar into unprecedented territory. This year’s week 45 dry onion prices far exceed any records set in the past ten years.
Reports of the Pacific Northwest’s fall harvest usually calm market nerves until the end of the year; However, low yields and an already exhausted supply are sending onion prices into uncharted territory.
Throughout the summer, the hot, dry weather prepared the onion fields for small sizes and a difficult harvest. Growers struggled with difficult growing conditions, weeds and labor shortages. This combination of the worst possible circumstances has resulted in what some growers are reporting as their most difficult harvest in three decades.
Yellow onions are over $ 17, double the norm, on large calibers. The average item size is moderately high at $ 10 per 50 lbs.
If you are a true Floridian and Thanksgiving Key Lime Pie equals your love for air conditioning and flip flops, we recommend that you buy your limes ASAP. Citrus fruits are up +38 percent from the previous week and are expected to continue to climb. Mexican lime production is down but will resume in a few weeks.
Here’s something buyers can be thankful for, tomato markets are finally stabilizing. Thanks to an increase in production in Florida and Mexico, overall tomato prices were further down -20 percent from the previous week. Roma’s supply is still slightly behind demand, but Grape, Cherry and Rounds are seeing significant improvements.
Eastern round ripe green tomatoes dip early in Florida volume.
Nogales crosses for peppers and other peppers should increase over the next 7-10 days; Watch for falling prices as the increase in supply coincides with the lull in demand as Thanksgiving Day approaches.
Lettuce shortages continue to create active markets. Even after iceberg prices peaked two weeks ago and have now stabilized, lettuce prices remain at their highest level in a decade.
Romaine lettuce might be slightly cheaper than its “cool friend,” but don’t think it’s anything close to a cheap date. Prices are up +7 percent from the previous week and are expected to remain high through November. Poor quality sourced from Salinas and delayed production from Arizona are contributing to the supply problems plaguing the industry.
Romaine lettuce prices level off before an inevitable drop when Yuma begins.
This week’s not-so-subtle post, watch your wallet this holiday season.
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The ProduceIQ Index is the fresh produce industry’s only point-of-shipment price index. It represents the industry-wide price per pound at the packing location for domestic products and at the United States port of entry for imported products.
ProduceIQ uses 40 commodities to represent the industry. The Index dynamically weights each commodity, by season, based on 5-year weekly moving average sales. Sales are calculated using the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service for movement and price data. The index serves as a fair benchmark for the price performance of the industry.