Supplies of some Thanksgiving produce favorites could be light this year, grower-shippers and industry officials report.
Very wet weather in the Glades/Lake Okeechobee region of Florida during plantings from mid-September to mid-October will put a major dent in green bean volumes for the holiday, said Gary Stafford, a salesman and green bean manager for Hugh H. Branch Inc., Pahokee, Fla.
“We may be 50% of normal,” Stafford said Oct. 16.
Other growing regions will likely face similar shortages, he said.
“There’s been extensive rain all over south Florida.”
Despite the heavy losses, the beans Hugh Branch ships for Thanksgiving should be of high quality, Stafford said.
On Oct. 16, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported prices of $12.35-14.85 for bushel cartons and crates of pre-cooled, machine-picked round green beans from Georgia, down from $17.35-18.35 last year at the same time.
Sweet potato demand has increased so much in the fall as a whole, said Benny Graves, executive director of the Vardaman-based Mississippi Sweet Potato Council, it’s hard to separate holiday pull from normal movement.
“I don’t know when Thanksgiving starts anymore,” he said Oct. 16. “I think it starts now.”
Regardless of the starting date, volumes out of Mississippi will be lighter for Thanksgiving, also thanks to Mother Nature, Graves said.
“We’ll have adequate supplies but nothing extra,” he said. “We’re cautiously optimistic.”
Retailers won’t be able to be as aggressive this Thanksgiving with sweet potato ads, Graves said.
“There will be some good deals, but limited promotions,” he said.
On Oct. 16, the USDA reported prices of $16 for 40-pound cartons of No. 1 orange sweet potatoes from Mississippi, down from $16.50-17 at the same time.
Cranberry volumes from Massachusetts and Wisconsin could be up to 10% lower than anticipated industrywide, said Bob Wilson, managing member of The Cranberry Network LLC, Wisconsin Rapids, Wis., which markets fruit grown by Tomah, Wis.-based Habelman Bros. Co.
Despite the industry shortage, Habelman Bros. expects to have a promotable fresh crop for Thanksgiving.
“We’re in great shape for peak season and late-season demand,” he said. “We’ll have excellent supplies.”
Wilson expects the price to hold fairly steady, unlike last fall, when low quality depressed markets.
Berries also were smaller than usual this season, Wilson said. This year, fruit should be medium to medium-large — big but not so big that quality is affected. In mid-October Habelman reported exceptional fruit structure and overall quality, Wilson said.
On Oct. 16, cartons of 24 12-ounce film bags of early black cranberries from Massachusetts sold for $34 on the New England Produce Center terminal, compared to $34-36 last year at the same time.