Cabbage supplies will be limited this St. Patrick’s Day due to cold weather in Texas and northern Florida.
Volumes will be normal for Belle Glade, Fla.-based Pioneer Growers Co-op, said Mike Owens, sales representative.
The same, however, can’t be said for growers up north and in the Lone Star state, Owens said. And St. Patrick’s Day prices should reflect it.
“I suspect the market will be higher than people usually expect,” he said. “I expect it be $14 or $15.”
Owens had heard of other shippers quoting lower holiday prices, but he expects supplies to very tight. Pioneer typically does not set ad lids in advance for St. Patrick’s Day cabbage, Owens said.
Even if cabbage hits $15, however, it will still be a bargain compared to other vegetables, given the severe losses in Mexico following an early February freeze, said Tony Piedimonte, co-owner of Wimauma, Fla.-based Wm. P. Hearne Produce Co. LLC.
On Feb. 15, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported prices of $12-14 for 50-pound cartons of medium round green cabbage from Florida, up from $9-9.50 last year at the same time.
Frank Schuster, president of Val Verde Vegetable Co. Inc., McAllen, Texas, said a second freeze in the Rio Grande Valley Feb. 11 may have done more damage than the one Feb. 4.
Unlike with the first freeze, with the second freeze plants did not have any ice cover to protect them from low temperatures, Schuster said.
“We’re still unsure of the timing, but (cabbage for) St. Patrick’s has been set back,” he said. “We’ll be at the bottom end of our range on commitments.”
St. Patrick’s volumes in Northern Florida could be down 30% on some farms, Piedimonte said.
“A lot of people are going to miss the market,” he said. “Hearne’s supply could be down 10% with these cooler conditions. But we expect to have sufficient supplies and great quality for our customers for St Patty's features.”
Pioneer’s cabbage should be very high-quality, with one of the higher yields Owens said he’s seen in recent years. Weights that typically average 55 or 56 pounds per box have topped 60 pounds in recent weeks.
Sales of red potatoes from the Red River Valley growing regions of North Dakota and Minnesota should increase 15 to 20% in the two weeks leading up to St. Patrick's Day, said Ted Kreis, marketing director for Northern Plains Potato Growers Association, East Grand Forks, Minn.
Promotions of size B red potatoes will pick up as St. Patrick’s Day nears, said Steve Tweten, president of NoKota Packers Inc., Buxton, N.D.
Tweten said there will be ample supplies for ads, and he anticipates continued strong demand for Red River Valley reds.
“The season’s been going really well so far,” he said.
On Feb. 15, the USDA reported a price of $15 for 50-pound cartons of valley size B reds, comparable to last year at the same time.