Doug OhlemeierPaul Allen, president of the Maitland-based Sunshine Sweet Corn Farmers of Florida and vice president and co-owner of R.C. Hatton Farms in Pahokee, Fla., at the packinghouse in late April. Grower-shippers say buyers can expect high volume of corn through late May. BELLE GLADE, Fla. — At the height of supplies, Florida sweet corn growers are bringing large shipments but are experiencing lackluster demand.
Demand in late April was low as packinghouses handle high volumes suitable for promotions during Florida’s peak of the season.
“Demand is bad because of weather on the receiving end and this is as bad as I’ve ever seen,” said Randy Wilkinson, president of Wilkinson-Cooper Produce Inc. “We are selling 40% of what we normally sell this time of the year. Trucks are tight and rates are high. People just aren’t buying.”
Unfavorable spring weather in the Northeast is depressing corn sales and Florida packinghouses plan to fill demand until a tardy Georgia deal starts.
Grower-shippers say retailers should expect promotable supplies from south Florida until the deal transitions to Georgia in late May.
“I have never seen a deal that’s been this sluggish going into the bulk of our corn crop,” Jon Browder, sales manager for Pioneer Growers Co-op, said in late April. “The Sunshine Sweet brand promotions during the first two weeks of the season didn’t have as big an impact as the ones during the next two weeks when we should be a lot busier.”
Doug OhlemeierIn late April, workers pack sweet corn at the packinghouse of Hugh H. Branch Inc., in South Bay, Fla. South Florida’s corn is at its peak in production and grower-shippers say movement should be high until the deal switches to Georgia in late May. In late April, grower-shippers quoted $9.45-9.95 for wirebound crates of 4-4 1/2 dozen yellow, white and bicolor corn with contracted product marketing for $9.45.
During the same time last year, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported those same varieties from south Florida fetching $9.45-9.95.
Though Georgia volume isn’t expected to begin until early June, Browder and others say the transition from south Florida to Georgia should go smoothly.
Florida packers typically finish around Memorial Day and relocate operations to Georgia which usually begins harvesting in mid- to late May.
Brett Bergmann, co-owner of Hugh H. Branch Inc., South Bay, said buyers should expect strong volume through after Memorial Day.
“We have an excellent crop of sweet corn,” he said in late April. “Promotions are set and retailers can expect plenty of volume.”
Grower-shippers characterize the crop as high quality.
“We have very good quality, average yields and steady prices,” said Ted Wanless, chief operating officer of S. M. Jones & Co. Inc. “We have good demand in the Sunshine State but winter’s hanging on in the Northeast. Promotions should be good for Memorial day.”
Buyers should expect high quality throughout the deal, said Bryan Biederman, partner with Scotlynn Sweet Pac Growers LLC.
“All our corn is fresh and fancy grade and loaded onto trucks every day,” he said in late April.