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ProduceIQ: Cold front pushes off Spring demand


Spring has sprung, but the cold weather missed its exit cue. A cold front is sweeping the U.S. early this week, bringing rain and unseasonably chilly temperatures.

But never fear, in good Spring form, the pendulum will swing the opposite way in just a few days, causing Kleenex’s stock to soar and the season to feel more like summer.

The reports coming out of California after last week’s devastating floods are staggering. Growers have been unable to officially provide damage estimates due to heavy field saturation, but initial estimates are in the hundreds of millions.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to the residents and growers in the Pajaro and Salinas valley communities. And sadly, for many California residents, more rain and flood risks are coming this week.

ProduceIQ Index:  $0.96/pound, up +2.1 percent over prior week

Week #11, ending March 17th

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.

Strawberry prices are only up +3 percent over the previous week due to strong supply from Mexico and Florida. However, prices will likely accelerate quickly over the next few weeks as the Southeast heats up and a gap in supply opens. Expect markets to remain volatile as damage reports roll in and forecasts adjust.

Along with strawberries, commodities such as lettuce and celery will also contend with the adverse effects of these storms and subsequent flooding.

Squash prices increased significantly over the previous week, with yellow squash leading the pack. This is one of those rare times when Nogales’ yellow squash, $25, is significantly more expensive than Florida squash, $15. 

Central Florida is forecasted to ramp up in the next couple of weeks and will provide some light relief to an overextended supply.

Yellow squash markets are active by shipping point; Nogales squash spikes as growing regions transition northward.

Tomato prices are leaping abruptly in response to a temporary gap in supply. Roma prices are up an average of +27 percent over the previous week, and beefsteak tomatoes +17 percent. If supply from Mexico and Florida improves this week, prices should return to a seasonal norm.

Roma tomatoes are off the floor and often gap this week each year.

Lime markets are finding relief from the new crop supply unexpectedly soon. Prices are down -6 percent over the previous week. Growers report a low supply of larger fruit; however, some smaller sizing is available.

Although the news is a Monday miracle for weary lime buyers and Corona-soaked spring breakers, prices will likely remain highly volatile over the next few weeks as the growers work to get their feetunder them. It’s crazy when $49 limes don’t raise any eyebrows.

Lime (175ct) prices begin to fall from a $55 peak and avoid the insane price levels reached in 2022

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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.