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ProduceIQ: Overall prices fall during heat-driven volatility


Overall industry prices are falling quickly into August and will likely continue through the month. That said, the ProduceIQ Index remains at a record high for week #31.

Demand is trending lower thanks to extreme heat, a calendar without holidays, and the back-to-school transition.

You know that feeling of impending doom you get in the fall while enjoying that glorious extra hour of daylight saving sleep? Because you know, in too few months, the lords of sunlight will come knocking, at an absurd hour earlier, asking for that time back.

Essentially strawberries have made us feel the same way this summer. Across the West Coast, the intense heat waves caused various crops, not just strawberries, to ripen rapidly. The abnormal weather caused supply to increase and strawberry prices to plummet earlier in the season.

Now, after a wild summer of deliciously plentiful strawberries, California’s reported output is near historic lows. It also doesn’t help that rainy weather in California is strangling available supply even further. As a result, it would not be unreasonable for strawberry markets to be extremely tight for quite a few weeks.


Strawberries (medium sizes from CA) enter a time of volatility after seven weeks of increasing prices.

ProduceIQ Index: $1.16 /pound, -4.9 percent over the prior week
Week #31, ending August 5th

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.

Just falling short of a ten-year high, asparagus prices are up another +8 percent. Asparagus prices typically climb this time of year as growers begin to transition from Central Mexico to the West Coast; however, this year, historic drought conditions are stifling grower output even further.

In addition, chillier weather and port delays are slowing the flow of supplies from Peru. Available asparagus supply is forecasted to remain light and inconsistent through early September.


Asparagus (large-size, 11 lb) prices surpass $32, though they don’t typically stay high for long.

Following historic trends for this time of year, lime prices are up +29 percent. Limes typically decrease in volume out of Mexico this time of year as growers change crops. Relief should come by the end of August when the new crop comes online.

A gap in supply is forcing pear prices higher. Bosc-variety pears are being reported at over $50, whereas Bartlett continues at record prices, $32. Right now, Northern California is holding the line, but Washington should start in the next three weeks and provide some relief to elevated prices.


Bartlett Pears from Northern California begin the season at over $30; the historical pattern is for steadily falling prices.

A severe gap in supply has had the words potato famine swimming in our heads. A word of encouragement for buyers, just hold on tight for a couple more weeks. Hope is just around the corner in the form of a new crop. Washington has started to harvest in a small way, and supplies should begin to pick up in September.

So many inexpensive superfoods. Though we like to think of all produce commodities as superfoods, some of the most notable (avocados and blueberries) are enjoying considerably reasonable prices. So promote, and snag a few for yourselves while the good times last!

Please visit Stores to learn more about our qualified group of suppliers, or 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.