Imagine this: you’re sitting down at your produce company’s weekly sales meeting. The owner of the company brings in a stack of supermarket flyers and passes them around the table. She asks each of the salespeople to analyze the retailers’ advertised prices for the commodities they buy from your company.
As you browse through the produce section of the ad flyers, you see one of the retailers you service is drastically undercutting another store’s offerings on almost every produce item. Then you notice another retail customer has strawberries on special—after rejecting the price you were offering for strawberries just last week.
You wonder: how do retailers set their produce prices? Is there a way to know if stores will have specific items on special? Is there somewhere that shows all these specials in one place, with a price distribution list of produce items? Could a produce shipper capitalize on having this type of information?
The answer to all of these questions is yes: the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Specialty Crops Market News service provides this information to the public regularly through reporters who track over 400 supermarket chains, with more than 30,000 individual stores.
As a result, the National Retail Report–Specialty Crops is published weekly, giving buyers, sellers, and consumers access to the same information at the same time. Retail reporting completes the “third leg of the stool” for Market News, as the agency also tracks major wholesale terminal markets, and at shipping point for a wide range of specialty crops.
What Drives the Market
Market News retail reporting focuses on advertised specials, not everyday prices. These ads are a key driver in the marketplace, particularly for highly perishable and seasonal specialty crops. This retail reporting has the added benefit of allowing users to look both forward and backward in time. You can see, for example, spikes in supply as product was shipped to cover the items promoted in ads.
Conversely, when the increased movement to cover the ads has been completed, you can look at the Daily Movement Report and see a clear decline in volume. You can also track the prices as reported by Market News’ shipping point reports and see if there was any direct impact on the market prices for growers and shippers.