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ProduceIQ: Mexican drought strains U.S. produce supply chain, prices


The ongoing Mexican drought is significantly impacting U.S. produce prices. As nearly 40 percent of the country’s reservoirs dip below 20 percent capacity, growers are under pressure to reduce water usage. Reduced supply, increased costs, and quality concerns are just some obstacles facing suppliers and buyers.

One way growers are attempting to cut water use is by picking heavy and ending harvest cycles early. The subsequent gap in supply is opening produce markets to price volatility. The beginning of Mexico’s rainy season (May-September) will likely not resolve the extreme drought overnight but may temporarily relieve a parched reservoir system.

It has been a dry start to the rainy season. With very little rain and extreme heat, growers are stretching the water supply to the limit and praying for relief.  

ProduceIQ Index:  $1.34/pound, flat over prior week  

Week #21, ending May 24th 

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.

Eastern and Western zucchini and yellow squash supplies are extremely limited. Demand is strong, and market prices have responded in kind. Yellow squash prices are up dramatically, and zucchini squash prices are up +26 percent over the previous week.

In Georgia, growers are battling swelling disease pressure due to heavy rainfall, wind, and heat. Rain, reported as high as 7 inches, is impacting harvesting in the Georgia clay. The Western market is also experiencing high prices as a slow transition creates a gap in production.

California lettuce growers struggle to shake off winter’s chill. A cooler-than-typical California Spring has slowed plant growth. Romaine prices are declining yet remain at record highs of $33.

Fortunately for California lettuce growers, the sun came out for Memorial Day, and forecasts show the warming trend is here to stay. Supply should steadily improve over the next few weeks as the warmer weather decreases disease pressure and increases growth rates.

Romaine, $33, is softening after reaching record highs.  


Parsley prices are well above average for week #21. Due to poor growing conditions, Parsley volume out of Oxnard and the Salinas Valley is noticeably below the norm. Supply is forecasted to remain tight for the next two weeks.

Parsley (60ct Western plain) prices, $27, are at a 3rd consecutive year of inflation.

Lemons are up +5 percent over the previous week to $33. Larger sizes are more readily available, and supply is forecasted to remain tight throughout the summer. If markets continue their current trajectory, prices will likely break summer price records set in 2017 and 2018.

Unlike in the prior two years, Lemon prices, $33, are climbing as they had in 2021 and earlier

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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 is an industry veteran with over 20 years of produce experience. After earning his MBA from Columbia Business School, he spent seven years as CFO for J&J Family of Farms. He 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 from trading with greater access and efficiency. This led him to cofound ProduceIQ.