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ProduceIQ: A few ‘buys’ open before Mother’s Day

As Berkshire Hathaway’s annual shareholder’s meeting kicks off in Omaha, we are reminded of a bit of timeless Warren Buffet wisdom that couldn’t be more applicable to this week’s overall fresh produce market.

“It’s far better to buy a wonderful company at a fair price than a fair company at a wonderful price.”

Or in produce terms, it’s OK to pay a little more for quality product. Due to warmer spring temperatures, fresh produce markets across the country are beginning to benefit from wonderful produce at fair prices.

Commodities that, a few weeks ago, were headlining the endangered species list are now benefiting from a steady, quality supply. Lime prices are quickly descending from record highs.

Additionally, berries (black, blue and raspberry), broccoli, cauliflower, cucumbers, and corn are now in need of a pre-Mother’s Day pick-me-up.

Week #17, ending April 29th
ProduceIQ Index: $1.21 /pound, flat over prior week

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.

Florida’s corn supply is abundant. At $12, quality bi-color corn is ripe for promotion. However, opinions vary about supply during the next transition to Georgia, which has gone through challenging weather. Given cost inflation on fertilizer and other input costs, corn growers need higher prices to break even. As a result, the Memorial Day pull is likely to be active this year.

Corn falls to $12 FOB Florida, fitting the higher side of historical prices during the spring flush.

If only avocados would get the memo. At $70 for a 60-count, one can only hope the unquenchable American appetite for Hass Avocados is finally nearing its price ceiling. Defying economics, avocados are 4 for $5 at my local grocer.

Unfortunately, the reported Mexican import volume is down again. California harvest has reportedly increased over the previous week but will do little to fill the cavernous hole left by a waning Mexican supply. With relief still a long way off, it seems as though the demons plaguing avocados markets are here to stay.

Honeydew prices are at a ten-year high. The melon’s prices have swelled steadily over the last seven weeks in response to low supply and varied quality. So don’t be surprised to see a white-fleshed melon in your fruit bowl. Now, slightly more volume is available on the East Coast; however, prices are elevated across the U.S. Increasing Mexican production and nearing domestic production should provide relief to elevated markets within two to three weeks.

Honeydew prices break out and test new highs.

The one commodity that isn’t benefiting from all this heat is brussels sprouts. Heat in Mexico is slowing brussels sprout growth and handicapping harvest crews. Mexican sprout production is typically on the decline this time of year, while domestic growers, mainly in California, are slowly ramping up production. However, current supply is limited and may remain so for at least a few more weeks.

Brussels sprout prices have upside potential and are unpredictable.

Mother’s Day is rapidly approaching. Set at least fifteen reminders to send your mom flowers if you haven’t. Or even better, a bouquet of assorted berries? Just in time for blueberry pancakes and delectable edible arrangements sent by grown kids too far away, assorted berry markets are enjoying very fair prices. So, feel free to promote and share with the mom you love.

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.