After months of strong markets, tomato prices were falling as spring gave way to summer and more domestic deals began, said Chuck Weisinger, president and chief executive officer of Weis-Buy Farms Inc., Fort Myers, Fla.
“The last two weeks, prices have dropped precipitously,” Weisinger said June 25. “We’re looking at an overabundance of product.”
Tony DiMare, vice president of Homestead, Fla.-based DiMare Co., agreed.
“We’re in for a tough summer as long as the weather is favorable,” he said.
“Product is coming in from a lot of locations.”
On June 25, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported prices of $4.95-5.95 for 25-pound cartons of loose mature-greens from California, down from $10.95-11.95 last year at the same time.
In addition to Florida and Mexico, in late June California production was ramping up and product also was starting to come out of Arkansas, South Carolina and Georgia, with other seasonal production just around the corner, Weisinger said.
“It’s almost like we have to get a little too cheap before we can come back.”
That comeback could begin as early as the week of July 1.
“I have a feeling that people will be surprised by the amount of business we do next week” in the runup to the Fourth of July, Weisinger said.
“I think this is a short-term glitch. I expect more stabilization after the Fourth.”
Quality out of Florida was very good in late June, with no arrival problems reported, Weisinger said.
“The growers are doing a fantastic job finishing these tomatoes.”
DiMare Co. reported very good quality at the end of its Florida deal and the beginning of its California deal, DiMare said.
The company wrapped up its Ruskin, Fla., production the week of June 17 and began shipping from Newman, Calif., in mid-June.
High freight rates to the East Coast will make it harder for DiMare Co. and other California shippers to supply Eastern markets with product this summer, DiMare said.