Pamela Riemenschneider Retailers pining for asparagus in promotable volumes could get their wish this Easter, and strawberry volumes also should be up in time for holiday pull.
California asparagus shippers were expected to begin shipping the week of March 4, with prospects for promotable Easter volumes good, said James Paul, asparagus and avocado salesman for The Giumarra Cos., Los Angeles.
“As long as the weather cooperates, California should be in full swing,” Paul said Feb. 27.
Retailers can look forward to excellent quality and big sizes out of California, Paul said.
“They had just enough moisture and nice chill hours. It’s setting up to be very nice.”
Decent volumes of Mexican asparagus also should still be in the pipeline for Easter pull, Paul said. After significant yield losses this season because of cold weather, Mexican shippers will want to stretch the deal as long as possible to try to recoup losses, he said.
“I think they’ll definitely try to hang in there with ample supplies.”
Asparagus supplies will be up this Easter because the holiday comes early — March 31 — much earlier than the past two years, Paul said.
But Paul doesn’t have any concerns about the crop not selling.
“We’re very confident in demand,” he said. “A lot of retailers have been down on asparagus year-to-date (because of light volumes), so they’re really excited to finally get in a position to promote.”
Prices will likely drop slightly in the first half of March, then pick up again as Easter nears, Paul said.
On Feb. 26, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported a price of $44.75 for 28-pound cartons and crates of large asparagus from Mexico, up from $18.75 last year at the same time.
After a period of hibernation, California strawberries marketed by Oxnard, Calif.-based Deardorff Family Farms could be set for a big coming-out party just in time for Easter, said Doug Lowthorp, salesman.
“My hope is that, because it’s been so cool (and) the plants are holding back and the more and more they get loaded that by Easter we should have good supplies.”
Quality at the end of February was “fantastic,” Lowthorp said, and with no rain in the forecast, it should stay that way.
With Florida winding down and likely to supply mostly the Southeast only for Easter, the stage is set for brisk movement of California-grown fruit, Lowthorp said.
“I get the feeling that demand is going to very good,” he said. “Retailers are eager to promote.”
On Feb. 26, the USDA reported prices of $16-18 for flats of 12 one-pint baskets medium and large strawberries from Oxnard, comparable to last year at the same time.