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ProduceIQ: Prices keep rising as heat sticks around


The first day of fall may be Saturday, but summer heat isn’t ready to pass the torch yet. Meteorologists forecast temperatures to be above average for much of the U.S. this week.

In October, long-term forecasts show temperatures dropping to average/below average for the continental U.S., excluding the upper Midwest. Good news for heat-weary growers in the South/Southwest.

Over the weekend, Lee made landfall as a post-tropical storm on the U.S./Canada border near Nova Scotia. Reports of damage are minimal for a storm that was, at one point, a Category 5 hurricane.

ProduceIQ Index:  $1.22/pound, up +4.3 percent over prior week

Week #37, ending September 15th

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.

Cue Fat Joe and Remy Ma’s “All The Way Up.” The overall ProduceIQ Index rises another +4 percent to an unprecedented $1.22. Although heavily weighted commodities, such as blueberries and raspberries, play a significant role in lifting average prices, typically inexpensive “cocktail staples” such as celery and limes are also pushing the price pendulum to record highs for week #37.

As demand for summery bloody marys and mojitos peter out, and the onset of fall ignites a yearning for all things pumpkin spice, Mexican lime supply customarily (and somewhat mockingly) improves.

This year may be the exception. Although the onslaught of fall flavors is seemingly unstoppable, Mexican lime supply is not swelling with its usual enthusiasm. High heat has prevented the fruit from sizing up. October will bring the start of the new crop. However, abnormally warm weather may also negatively affect the new crop.

Limes, 200ct, prices reach a new high of $40

Speaking of pumpkins… While not a member of the ProduceIQ price index, ‘tis the season of all things orange and gourdy. And to celebrate, here’s what we know about fall’s favorite porch décor:

Rain and cooler weather in some growing areas, such as Indiana and Canada, are increasing prices. Overall, pumpkin markets are elevated, though supply is sufficient to meet demand. 45ct bins from the Midwest are $163 delivered to Florida (approx. $105 FOB).

Extreme heat brought on by the El Niño weather phenomenon and exacerbated by climate change is strangling Peruvian blueberry supply. Blueberry plants demand consistent cold for them to flower. Abnormally high temperatures in Peruvian growing regions have pushed back production by 5-6 weeks, causing a cavernous hole in supply.

Blueberry production in the Pacific Northwest and Michigan is finished, and imports from South America are sparse and erratic. At an average of $42 for week #37, prices accurately reflect the dire state of current supply. Volume from Mexico and Peru should improve gradually as we move into October; however, expect very high prices for at least five more weeks. 

Blueberry prices skyrocket past $40 and enter a time of historical volatility.

Like an overplayed pop hit, Hurricane Hilary refuses to bow out of our weekly highlights. Effects from the storm are still painfully present for Baja California, Mexico, and Central California growers.

Raspberry prices are up +22 percent over the previous week to a ten-year high. Yields from Mexican growers are about a quarter of what they usually are for week #37, and in California, yields are below average.

Unlike blueberries, the outlook for raspberry supply is a bit more optimistic. Supply will likely increase over the next few weeks as more growing regions in Mexico come online.

Raspberry prices surpass $20, reaching a new high for week 37

Due to the effects of Hurricane Hilary, green onions are going for a dazzling $29 on average. Mexico’s exports are light, and supply will remain very tight for the next four weeks.

Quality issues in the Salinas/Watsonville growing area are upping celery prices to a ten-year high. Prices should decline as volume rises in Central California over the next few weeks.

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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.