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ProduceIQ: Price rises led by lettuce and bell peppers

Our comment last week that Iceberg Lettuce “is poised to climb higher” proved to be an understatement.

Iceberg lettuce prices have more than doubled in two weeks, increasing +70 percent this week to $0.46 /pound. Iceberg, and the broader Lettuce & Leaf category, have fair quality, but supply is struggling to keep from wilting in the sweltering California heat.

(Week #38, ending September 18th)

ProduceIQ Index: $0.80 /pound, +6.7 percent over prior week

Overall, produce markets are trending higher with only 9 of our 40 commodities decreasing price this week.

Significant strengthening occurred in berries (excluding blackberries), melons, tomatoes, broccoli, cabbage and bell peppers.

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.

Summer weather volatility shows that it seems 2020 is not quite finished taking the world for a wildly unpredictable ride. This year’s hyperactive hurricane season, now up to 23 named storms including Sally, is greatly affecting East Coast growing regions.

Mid-Atlantic growing regions are receiving rain, ending early, and creating gaps in harvest before South Georgia resumes with full production. Tomatoes and peppers have entered a demand-exceeds-supply situation, an act of God welcomed by struggling East Coast growers.

If Bell Peppers were a stock, technical traders would have signaled a breakout above their resistance level. This week, bell peppers are at an all-time high.

At $0.78 /pound, Bell Pepper prices are dramatically higher than in the prior 15 years.

Asparagus continues its downward trend due to good volume and quality from Peru, providing an excellent “buy” opportunity. Prices are $1.38 /pound, reaching a 10-year low for this week. Mexico will begin exporting Asparagus to the U.S. in two weeks. Time remains to plan promotional campaigns as Asparagus typically stays lower priced until early November.

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.