(Oct. 29, 3:10 p.m.) Broccoli and cauliflower prices are up over last year, thanks at least in part to lower acreage and stronger demand for relatively inexpensive bulk produce items, grower-shippers and industry analysts said.

Cauliflower volumes are down 2% over last year at the same time, and broccoli volumes are flat, said Steven Muro, president of Fusion Marketing, Chatsworth, Calif.

Prices, meanwhile, are up slightly. Cauliflower prices are up about 4.6% over the past 52 weeks, and broccoli prices are up 4.3%, Muro said.

The price per pound of cauliflower averaged $1.76 at the end of October, up from $1.68 last year at the same time.

Broccoli also was averaging $1.76 a pound, up from $1.69.

Markets were “very brisk” in late September and October, but were starting to slow down some at the end of October, said Will Feliz, vice president of agriculture operations for Salinas, Calif.-based River Ranch Fresh Foods LLC.

On Oct. 28, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported prices of $14-15.45 for cartons of broccoli bunched 14s from California, up from $11-12.45 last year at the same time.

Cartons of film-wrapped white cauliflower 12s from California were $12-14.45, up from $11.45-12.45 last year at the same time.

It’s hard to predict where prices will be in the coming weeks, said Michael Boggiatto, president and general manager of Boggiatto Produce Inc., Salinas.

“The volume seems to pick up and drop out of nowhere,” he said.

Boggiatto Produce cut its broccoli deal by about 20% over the past five years, Boggiatto said.

The strong markets earlier in the fall were attributed to light supplies due to extreme heat in the Salinas Valley, Feliz said.

“We expect to see sales of broccoli, cauliflower and other vegetables increase as people shift away from convenience items to higher-value items,” Muro said.

Those shifts will most likely occur both in the produce department and store-wide, Muro predicts. Bulk lettuce, for instance, could begin to steal market share from bagged salads, he said.

Good growing conditions should mean abundant supplies of high-quality broccoli and cauliflower throughout the fall, Muro said.

Feliz also reported good quality on product shipping in late October. River Ranch should source from the Salinas area through the first week of December, after which the deal will shift to the El Centro region, he said.