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ProduceIQ: Easter demand encourages high market prices


Due to supply chain disruptions at the port of good fun, the Easter Bunny is running a bit behind schedule this year. As a result, Easter celebrations will be delayed until April 17th, pushing the holiday right into the path of the train wreck that is Spring transition.

Jokes aside, Easter varies between March 22nd and April 25th, depending on the year’s lunar schedule. The holiday is observed on the Sunday after the Paschal full moon, the first full moon on or after the Spring Equinox. This spring began on March 20th, and the Paschal moon isn’t until April 16th. Hence, Easter is later than it’s been in previous years.

Easter cuisine, despite our children’s best daydreams, is about much more than Peeps and Cadbury Crème Eggs. Fresh produce items like strawberries, herbs, asparagus, and other side dish staples face additional market pressure due to the holiday pull.

This year, gaps in production, inflation, and rising production costs are blending into another costly holiday meal for consumers.

ProduceIQ Index: $1.25 /pound, +1.6 percent over prior week
Week #14, ending April 8th

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.

Overall, markets are continuing upward despite the falling prices of staple Western items: Iceberg, Romaine, Broccoli, Cauliflower, and Celery. The Western items are seeing price decreases this week due to new California production.

The following items are continuing their ascent:

Strawberries are up +12 percent over the previous week. At $15, prices are at their second-highest in ten years. Last week, rain impacted fruit and reduced Santa Maria and Oxnard production.

Additionally, Easter typically prompts an increase in demand for the fruit, mainly at the retail level. Fortunately, markets should normalize within the week as demand lessens and California’s production continues to blossom.

Strawberries surpass $15; the typical price pattern doesn’t stay high for long.

Not that too much rain in California is ever entirely a bad thing, but avocado harvests were also inconveniently interrupted in response to last week’s inclement weather. Prices are up +4 percent, edging out 2019’s ten-year record.

What’s more, Mexico’s harvest is declining sharply, adding pressure to the already overstretched larger fruit market. On the bright side, Mexican volume is expected to increase throughout the week in anticipation of the Holy week shutdown. Avocado prices are not likely to fall anytime soon.

Green bell supply is extremely short in both Eastern and Western markets. Florida prices reached $35, and the chatter indicates a move to the $40s this week. Mexico is winding down, and Coachella has yet to begin, causing a significant gap in production.

Red bell supply is more readily available; Nogales is selling 11-pound cartons for $8. Though relief for green bells isn’t too far off, harvest regions are in transition, and volume is expected to improve in the next ten days.

Green Bell Peppers from Florida use their scarcity to test what the market will bear.

What says Easter more than cut cantaloupes in a Sunday brunch fruit bowl? Unfortunately, the most popular fruit salad ingredient is challenged by ocean freight delays and strong demand, spiking prices a bit early this year.

Most of the time, cantaloupe markets are rather dull, but things can get spicy from the end of the import season to the domestic harvest, week #15 to week #22. Central America’s melons season goes into a bit of a summer hibernation, fragmenting the supply across multiple domestic and foreign growing regions. California is the largest producer of domestic cantaloupe; its season begins around week #21 and goes till week #42.

Cantaloupe prices escalate with only 6 to 8 weeks remaining in the import season.

After two years off, the industry reunited at CPMA’s annual convention and tradeshow last week. The show was well attended despite existing COVID restrictions. At booths and dinners alike, innovation and sustainability dominated cherished in-person discussions. The optimism for a return to normalcy is palpable.

Please visit our online marketplace here and enjoy free access to our market tools which created the graphs above.

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.