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ProduceIQ: Winter storms rattle produce markets


If anyone thought conspiracy theories were a new trend, they must have forgotten about Groundhog Day. Last week, Punxsutawney Phil, the magically 137-year-old weather-forecasting groundhog, forecasted six more weeks of winter.

Fortunately for those still shivering from last week’s arctic blast, he’s only right 40 percent of the time. It’d be better to flip a coin.

Last week’s winter storm swept across the U.S. From Texas to Maine, freezing rain, snow, and sleet backed up supply routes, grounded air travel, and generally muddled weekend plans.

The record-breaking cold front will do little to help the already lean supply of commodities such as cauliflower and lettuce, especially in Eastern markets.

ProduceIQ Index:  $1.16/pound, up +1.8 percent over prior week

Week #5, ending February 3rd

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.

Broccoli and cauliflower prices are up significantly over the previous week. Broccoli is up 20+ percent and cauliflower 62+ percent, a ten-year high. Cold in the desert is delaying growth and harvesting. Supply is forecasted to remain light for at least the next couple of weeks. 

Cauliflower prices spike to $37, record highs for this mid-winter season.

In Chile, dozens of wildfires have killed over 20 people and are endangering the production of fresh produce commodities such as grapes, berries, and apples. Prices for these commodities are certainly on the higher end of the spectrum but are steady.

Fuji apples begin 2023 in record-high territory.

With excellent supply, lettuce markets held firm when the cold first hit Arizona growing regions two weeks ago. However, supply has thinned out, and prices are responding. Iceberg prices are up +21 percent over the previous week.

Ice-related delays will likely keep prices elevated for the rest of this week. However, warmer weather and more conducive harvesting conditions will wrangle prices back into submission as soon as next week.

In a surprising turn of events, banana markets in the U.S. are seeing a little instability. A variety of factors are contributing to the short supply of the grocery store staple, the most notable being increased input costs such as fertilizer. Rising production costs are forcing growers in South and Central America to cut back on planted acreage.

The ProduceIQ index does not cover banana prices because the market is highly concentrated and dominated by long-term contracts.

Thanks to a plentiful Peruvian supply, stone fruit is having quite the season. With supply only expected to increase even more over the next few weeks, nectarines, peaches, and even cherries are all ripe for promotion. 

Peaches imported from Chile have fluctuating prices.

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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.