Prices Soar Upward
Mike Hornick with The Packer Reports:
Broccoli prices have soared in the wake of diminished
California yields and storm damage to Mexican crops.
California grower-shippers on Oct. 14
were quoting $32-35 for 20 pounds of loose crown-cut broccoli out of Salinas
and Santa Maria. That’s up from $7.65-10.48 on July 15, according to U.S.
Department of Agriculture statistics reported before the government shutdown
Crown-cut broccoli breached the $20 mark
around Sept. 23, soon after Hurricane Manuel hit Mexico, and kept climbing. The
high markets are expected to continue at least two more weeks.
“The hurricane came in and clobbered
Acapulco at the same time a storm came in off the Gulf of Mexico, so the
production areas in central Mexico got a one-two punch that reduced their
volume,” said Mark McBride, salesman
for Salinas, Calif.-based Coastline Produce. “We’ve been $29-31 for bunches (of
14s and 18s), and crowns anywhere from $32-35.”
Linda Kivlehan, retail manager for Coastline,
noted it has been a nice run also due to the wet weather hurting broccoli
fields in Yuma. “It washed a lot of broccoli fields away. We should be seeing
some good prices all the way into December,” said Kivlehan.
Memories of weak markets past kept
California acreage down this year, particularly in Salinas. But yields were
also down as fall came on, as seeds fine-tuned for the Central Coast climate
often ran into temperatures or humidity slightly higher or lower than they
“The majority of the broccoli this time
of year comes from Santa Maria, and a lot of varieties there are not responding
well to changes in weather,” said Henry Dill, sales manager for Pacific
International Marketing. “A lot of guys have acreage just sitting there doing
nothing for a couple of weeks.”
“Warm and cold in Salinas are not what
people experience in other parts of the country,” McBride said. “It’s relative,
but if you’ve got a seed bred for the warmer temperatures we typically have in
the fall, and we don’t get them, the seeds underperform.”
Broccoli is a $316 million crop in
Monterey County — fourth behind leaf lettuce, strawberries and head lettuce —
but growers don’t always speak of it glowingly.
“I can’t remember the last time we
planted broccoli in Salinas and it was profitable,” Dill said. “In past years,
the broccoli market has been pretty dismal here, and many grower-shippers have
been hesitant to put a lot of broccoli in the ground. We have to plant some for
Pacific International was quoting $34 or
$35 on crowns, Dill said.
“People are hoping for a more normal
situation when we get production established in the desert,” McBride said. “But
we’re not out of the woods there either because there was rain a few weeks ago
in northern Baja and across the desert areas. Some of the first fields on many
items are showing a bit of damage.”
The transition to desert broccoli
production varies by grower-shipper, but happens mid-to late-November.
Labels: Broccoli Prices Soar Upward, Hurricane Manuel, The Packer