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ProduceIQ: Hurricanes and heat waves, just another Monday


In this week’s edition of “What in the Weather,” a hurricane aims at Houston, and the heat dome takes a trip West.

Excessive heat warnings are in effect from Arizona to Washington State and Florida to New York.

In California, daytime highs at high elevations are trending 20-30 degrees above average for week #27. The heat wave is forecasted to peak mid-week but will continue through the weekend.

With nighttime lows not providing much relief for commodities, anticipate produce markets to show some clear signs of heat distress come week #28, especially for heat-sensitive commodities such as lettuce, tender leaf, and mixed berries.

Hurricane Beryl made landfall early Monday morning as a Category 1 Hurricane 85 miles Southwest of Houston, TX. The storm brought hurricane-force wind, heavy rain, and power outages to a million homes and businesses in Texas. Flood warnings are in effect for large portions of the Texas coast, including Houston.

The storm will likely disrupt logistics over the next couple of days as officials work to clear streets of debris and floodwaters subside. In addition, Beryl will bring rain through the Midwest and even to the Northeast, first as a tropical storm and then as a tropical depression. Read next week’s story to learn how Beryl impacted produce markets throughout this week.

ProduceIQ Index:  $1.33/pound, down -5.7 percent over prior week  

Week #27, ending July 5th

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.

Mixed berry markets avoid post-holiday hangover as transition and heat in California spur markets onward. On average, the grapes and berries category are up +11 percent over the previous week. If new growing regions miraculously avoid the fallout from extreme heat, supply should ease in two weeks as transition brings new life to supply lines.

Strawberry prices, $16, reach a record high for week 27, yet remain affordable during this cheaper time of year.

Strawberries clean

Round and grape-type tomato markets are up significantly over the previous week. Average round prices are up +21 percent, and grape type are up +40 percent over the last week.

In the East, Florida and Georgia are nearly finished, and regional players in the Carolinas, Virginia, Alabama, Arkansas, and Tennessee are still ramping up production. The supply of Western tomatoes is better but is still below average due to rain-delayed harvesting.

Tomato markets are forecasted to have at least two more scarce weeks as suppliers and buyers struggle to find footing amid a slippery supply situation.

Grape tomato prices, $26, take off vertically during a time of year known for volatility.

Grape tomatoes clean

Tender leaf commodities such as parsley and cilantro are in a demand-exceeds-supply situation. Moisture-related quality issues such as mildew and bacterial spotting keep supply low and prices high. Poor supply is forecasted to persist through July.

At $36, asparagus prices barely grasp a ten-year high for week #27. High heat in Mexico and the Pacific Northwest and cooler-than-average temperatures in Peru suppress asparagus supply and force prices upwards. Although demand is cooling, unfortunately for buyers, no relief is in sight for at least the next two weeks.

Asparagus prices, $33, spike as is common for this time of year.

asparagus clean

Not everything is all doom and gloom for buyers this week. Yellow and zucchini squash supply is improving. However, week #27 prices are still high compared to the last ten years of USDA data. Prices will likely ease over the next few weeks as July brings even more opportunities for locally grown zucchini in stores.

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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.