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ProduceIQ: Dry veg items at both extremes during summer transition


The headline would ask, “Is cheap produce gone forever?” but then I’d have nothing to say about eggplant. 

An industry veteran, Neil Mazal, contributed to this article. Neil is among a handful of produce buyers who have forgotten more about the industry than most of us will ever learn. He allowed me to mention his name on the condition that nobody calls him to debate our commentary.

ProduceIQ Index:  $1.10/pound, up -8.9 percentover prior week  

Week #24, ending June 14th  

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.

The Dry Veg category is notoriously volatile, and this year is no exception. The end of the Spring season is playing out similarly to the end of 2024’s winter season. In both instances, weather-induced transitional gaps in supply have kept supply low and prices high.

The Mexican crop came to a rapid close due to high heat and a lack of water. California didn’t contribute as much supply, with most shippers claiming 20-25 percent less planted acreage this year; farmers face rising input costs, a lack of labor, and insufficient market prices to compensate for the increasing costs. 

Most warm produce-growing regions in the U.S. (namely California and Florida) have attractive alternatives for their farmland. Selling land for rooftops has less risk than selling peppers, making supply reduction a long-term trend.

Green bell peppers were a depressed $10 when the Georgia season began but have now risen to $30 for XXL. The Georgia crop had a reduced crown pick from weather issues early in the plant cycle. The gap is now pronounced as buyers wait for New York, New Jersey, and Canada to begin harvesting. Expect elevated prices through the 2nd week of July. 

Green Bell Pepper (XL)

Red Pepper is similarly high, with 1 1/9th pepper trading in the high $30s to low $40s.  Greenhouses had disease problems early on and are relying more on imported colored pepper from Holland and Israel. Mexico exacerbated the situation due to extreme drought and heat.

Cucumber markets have been demoralized since the salmonella recalls began on May 31.  Regardless of whether a health risk persists today, the events are significant enough to stir up buyers’ doubts. As news reports continue to circulate, buyers will attempt to substitute or go without. Super Select cucumbers are $10-12, and Selects are only $4-5. Markets are nearing pick & pack type levels. 

Eggplant is another extremely depressed market. Fancy eggplant can be had for $6; many shipments are under consignment. We were concerned that our readers were bored with skyrocketing produce prices, so we’re including a few graphs of produce commodities that are taking the unexpected nose-dive. Now is a good time to support your friendly eggplant suppliers.

Eggplant prices crash from $17 to $6, a floor that historically recovers in a few weeks.

Squash took a wild ride and is finally coming off.  Squash had been damaged in Georgia from heavy rain and even hail; now, squash is being picked in many regions. Summer squash gets geographically spread from the Carolinas to New Jersey and onto Canada. New Jersey prices opened strong yet faded quickly on low demand. These transitional times make mixing truckloads with multiple pickups problematic because the best dry veg items are not all at one shipping point.

West Coast squash has similarly cooled off, and shippers are beginning to seek demand further East than Vegas. When the market softens, suppliers aren’t fortunate enough to keep their product as close to home as possible.

Zucchini prices crashed as fast as they rose: from $28 to less than $10.

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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.