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ProduceIQ: Prices brake hard from their descent; Salinas fires threaten supply

produceIQ box

After a last week’s steep -15 percent decline, the produce markets held flat at $0.71 for the week ending August 21. Extreme volatility has left along with cherry season.

ProduceIQ Index: $0.71 per pound

As a whole, produce categories flattened to a delicate equilibrium. Price declines in berries, melons, and tomatoes were fully offset by gains in lettuce and spinach, broccoli and asparagus.

Fires near Central Valley growing regions have now ravaged several hundred thousand acres, causing ash to fall on farm fields that were already down in yield from heat and reduced planting acreage.

Expect commodities growing in the Central Valley, including Iceberg and Romaine Lettuce, to experience price increases throughout the supply interruptions.

Blue Book has teamed with ProduceIQ to bring the ProduceIQ Index to its readers. The index provides a produce industry price benchmark using 40 top commodities to provide data for decision making.

Year over year, the overall produce industry continues in both a lower supply and lower demand situation, balancing to respectable prices. Movement (pounds) are down -5 percent, and Sales are down -11 percent ($642 million in weekly sales generated by the 40 representative commodities).

Attractive buys are available on melons, tomatoes, avocadoes, mangoes, grapes, blueberries, and bell pepper, to name a few. These commodities are all near the low end of their price range for this time of year.

In the Citrus category, market supply remains tight and prices elevated ($0.67/pound). The citrus sub-index includes limes, oranges, lemons and grapefruit.

Excluding a peak of $0.70/pound in 2018, this is the highest price the Citrus category has seen in the past 15 years. Citrus is one of the rare winners from the pandemic, driven by increased demand for the health benefits of vitamin C and the USDA’s box program.

Graph: At $0.79/pound, Grape Tomatoes are a good buy, nearing lows.

ProduceIQ Index

The ProduceIQ Index is the fresh produce industry’s only shipping point price index. It represents the industry-wide price per pound at the location of packing for domestic produce, and at the port of U.S. entry for imported produce.

ProduceIQ uses 40 top commodities to represent the industry. The Index weights each commodity dynamically, by season, as a function of the weekly 5-year rolling average Sales. Sales are calculated using the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service for movement and price data. The Index serves as a fair benchmark for industry price performance.


Mark Campbell was introduced to the fresh produce industry as a lender for Farm Credit. After earning his MBA from Columbia Business School, he spent seven years as CFO for J&J Family of Farms and later served as CFO advisor to several produce growers, shippers and distributors. In this role, Mark saw the impediments that prevent produce growers and buyers to trade with greater access and efficiency. This led him to cofound ProduceIQ.