Stronger pepper production should meet with price drops - The Packer

Stronger pepper production should meet with price drops

05/14/2010 02:31:09 PM
Susie Cable

Despite this year’s unprecedented high prices on bell peppers, the market should fall throughout May, when domestic production peaks and supplies return to normal.

In early April, some green bell peppers were priced at more than $50 a carton. Prices should drop throughout May, when domestic and European volumes begin, said Kevin Batt, greenhouse category manager for Vancouver, British Columbia-based The Oppenheimer Group.

With some growers in Mexico expected to continue shipping peppers through May, and growers in California, Canada and Holland entering the market, prices were expected to level out by mid- to late May, he said.

Mike Aiton, marketing director for grower-shipper Prime Time International, Coachella, Calif., on April 29 said bell pepper prices will likely bottom out by about June 1. He expected prices to come down to half or less than half of what they were in late April.

On April 29, prices for 15-pound cartons of extra-fancy, extra-large green bell peppers were at $30.95, Aiton said.

“Once we hit the first of June, that flips over,” Aiton said of the high prices. “The seasonal anomalies go away and we’re back in peak production.”

Larger green bell peppers from Florida remained at a premium in late April, said Greg Cardamone, general manager of Raleigh, N.C.-based L&M Cos. Inc.’s vegetable division. Jumbo green bell peppers were $40 on April 23, about double the typical price for that time of year. By May 10, prices were $10.35-12.85.

L&M in late April shipped green bell peppers on the East Coast and all colors of bell peppers out of Mexico through Nogales, Ariz. It moved into new fields in southern Florida and saw its best production since January, Cardamone said.

Production was expected to move into northern Florida by mid-May and into Georgia by June 1.
Cardamone said he expects the market to be back to normal by early June, with good quality and yields.

Colored bells

In late April, cartons of red bell peppers from British Columbia were about double last year’s prices, said Craig Laker, sales director for BC Hot House Foods Inc., Langley, British Columbia.

Growers hoped prices would continue in the high teens to low 20s until late May. Prices will likely drop after that, and again in late August or early September, when more local growers are in production in British Columbia. By then, peppers could be at $8-12, Laker said.

Grower SunSelect Produce Inc., Aldergrove, British Columbia, started shipping colored bell peppers in early April, Batt said. Oppenheimer markets SunSelect peppers.

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