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ProduceIQ: Blueberries blissful at peak, pending the inevitable decline

While optimists celebrated the return to normal during the virtual CPMA Fresh Week, pessimists braced for the dreaded “third wave” of COVID-19.

Business has been anything but usual for foodservice in Canada, and once again the lifeblood of the hospitality industry is being threatened with increased restrictions, including curfews that are broadly defied.

“Canada continues to face an incredibly serious situation…in many places, numbers are higher than they have ever been before and many hospitals are stretched way too thin,” said Prime minister Justin Trudeau in a press conference last Friday.

The on-again off-again policies are exasperating restaurant operations in Canada.

However, Canadian retail continues to benefit as the country grapples with what may become another foodservice shutdown. Growers of fresh produce are justified to focus on increasing relationships with the top 6 Canadian retailers.

ProduceIQ Index: $1.08 /pound, -1.8 percent over prior week
Week #15, ending April 16th

Blue Book has teamed with ProduceIQ BB #:368175 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.

Bush berries are all experiencing a lighter-than-usual supply due to inclement weather across growing regions. Steep blueberry prices lurch slightly upward under pressure from an increasingly tight supply.

According to USDA data, in a normal year, prices would have begun their descent by now or at least would be on the very edge.

However, due to high rainfall in Florida and cooler-than-normal temperatures in Mexico, growers are experiencing lower yields on their early spring crop. Delayed harvesting will push back price relief for buyers longer than normal.

Blueberries (12 6oz in a flat) enjoy extended weeks of $20+ pricing.

After a solid five weeks of overall market increase, prices are finally beginning their descent.

Sitting at the very front of the fresh produce roller coaster, dry vegetables. Excellent quality, abundant supply and weaker than expected demand is keeping values low in the dry-veg category.

Sweet corn harvest in Florida is experiencing a slight delay due to heavy rains, though expect prices to continue their decline towards historical norms as yields ramp up.

Cucumbers are an outlier in the dry vegetable category as prices continue to climb long past their usual spring descent. Light volume coming out of Florida and a slow start to Mexican harvest is creating a temporary gap in supply. Price relief is expected to arrive within the next two weeks.

Sweet corn drops to sustainable levels due to higher production after a 2nd wave of high prices.

Honeydew supply is tight, pushing up prices even further. Delays at the ports are constricting supplies. However, markets should stabilize as domestic growers begin harvesting around mid-April.

Limes baffle industry veterans as they continue their historic flight (excluding 2014 which experienced pricing over the moon). A combination of cold damage and early harvesting has left supplies scattered at best.

Limes stay north of $40 for an extended number of weeks, adding yet another year of volatility.

If you missed this year’s CPMA keynote speaker:

What could a six-foot-five, 320-pound Canadian Super Bowl winning player, avid art lover, and Doctor in Medicine have in common with attendees at the 2021 CPMA Fresh Week?

Although Kansas City Chief Laurent Duvernay-Tardif’s list of personal and professional accomplishments may appear beyond human, his dogged determinism and emphasis on the importance of balance struck a chord with an industry rocked by a year of brutal volatility.

His story symbolizes the hope all industry professionals have to find the “perfect balance” in spite of the demanding and often unpredictable nature of fresh produce.

We wish you peace and tranquility while riding the fresh produce roller coaster.

Please visit our online marketplace here and enjoy free access to our market tools.

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.