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ProduceIQ: It’s a ‘Blue Blue’ Christmas for grape tomato buyers


Winter is coming, and produce markets are alight with the holiday spirit.

Supply is strong for commodities beginning their winter season in the Western Desert region, and the annual transition from the Salinas Valley, CA, may stick a soft landing (to steal a phrase from the fed) despite El Niño related weather challenges.

In the East, produce supply lags as it wrings out the last drops of moisture from a very wet fall. But overall, growers’ sentiment is optimistic that volume should increase over the next few weeks and ease elevated markets.

ProduceIQ Index:  $1.16/pound, up +6.4 percent over prior week

Week #49, ending December 8th  

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.

Tomatoes are facing a challenging period after a recent market slump. Despite a shortage in supply, changes in Florida’s growing conditions—cooler weather, fluctuating temperatures, and shorter daylight—are causing a scarcity of larger tomatoes. This shortage has spiked prices for grape, Roma, and round tomatoes.

Due to the lack of sunlight, Mexican tomato supply is reduced, especially greenhouse production. Much further North, Canadian greenhouse production is declining due to cold weather and low sunlight. Yet the demand remains high, driving strong prices for grape tomatoes, exceeding $30 (12x1pt). As seen on our weather tool, Palmetto, FL, is forecast to continue with highs in the low 70s this week, which isn’t much heat for plant growth.

Grape tomatoes rapidly reach record-setting prices.

Raspberry buyers, prepare to enter a mourning period as you grieve the loss of low raspberry markets. Declining Mexican volume is driving up raspberry prices. The average raspberry price is up +48 percent over the previous week and is expected to climb further as Mexican production wanes. Raspberry prices typically spike around week #50 and increase dramatically through the beginning of January.

Raspberry prices begin to rise, which usually continues into the end of January.

The melon category is having a wild week. Honeydew is up +60 percent, and watermelon is up +24 percent over the previous week. The domestic season is finished, and, as a result, markets are increasingly reliant on growers in Central America to meet demand.

Despite honeydew’s dramatic increase, this week’s prices are on the lower end of the historical supply spectrum due to ample volume still in the pipeline. Quality for both honeydew and watermelon is reportedly very high; however, suppliers are facing difficulty with the limited sizing of both commodities. 

Honeydew prices accelerate past $10 and typically rise into early February.

Sharply increasing export demand from Mexico is driving dry onion prices to the extreme. Don’t worry, buyers. It’s nothing worth shedding any fume-induced tears over yet. Hostile weather conditions in Mexico’s onion-growing regions have left supply short, but prices are still near average for this time of year. Expect mild price volatility through the holidays.

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ProduceIQ is a digital toolset designed to improve the produce trading process for buyers and suppliers. We save you time, increase your profits, expand your network, and provide valuable information.

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.