Cool-weather and freezing temperatures were the big talking points in the month of February for fresh produce distribution, according to National Produce Consultants. Six out of the 11 produce items on alert throughout February were due to these two issues with berries and corn being the most affected.
The two commodity items were on alert all month as berries endured the “perfect storm” during February. Freezes in Mexico, heavy rain in Chile, and the high demand for Valentine’s Day all put a big strain on the berries market. The freeze in Mexico and rain in Florida also impacted corn production throughout the entire month.
Over on the West Coast, wind and rain put a strain on strawberries during Valentine’s Day push, and while Mexico and Florida had their issues during February, both were able to slightly help out states like California.
Surprisingly, Chile’s grape production had the most unstable month of any region as they dealt with COVID-19 issues and extreme weather. The troubles began with an entire Chilean vessel having to quarantine due to positive cases on board. This was followed by extreme rainfall, resulting in fungi growth that destroyed the grape roots, causing over $600 million in crop damages.
Eggplant production in South Florida was also down due to cold weather, along with cucumber dealing with tight supply from Honduras and Mexico.
Speaking of tight supply, bananas, cantaloupe, and honeydew all experienced tight supplies as Central and South American countries continue to recover from hurricane damage from November. Celery experienced short supply at the beginning of February but the strain eased by the end of the month. Supply shortages of lime, on the other hand, increased as the month went on due to quality and travel issues, resulting in very high pricing.
Fresh Produce Watch
Items Affected by Cool Weather
Berries – Corn – Strawberries – Grapes – Eggplant – Cucumber
Items Affected by Supply
Bananas – Cantaloupe – Honeydew – Limes – Celery
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What to Expect At Your Local Fresh Produce in March
Supply for berries will continue to be tight as Mexico farms recover from recent freezes. Additionally, a production gap is expected in the coming weeks for corn, which means prices will continue to increase.
The grape situation in Chile looks severe; supply is expected to be limited until Mexico begins production. The extreme rainfall, leaving grapes underwater for days, combined with the high humidity that followed, have all contributed to the spread of the fungi.
The tight supply and high prices of limes are expected to continue while production of bananas will also remain tight as Summer production gets closer.
Finally, supply is expected to improve for cantaloupe, cucumber, eggplant, and strawberries, as they get help from growing regions in Guatemala, California, Florida, and Mexico.
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