Ernst Van Eeghen, director of marketing and product development at Salinas-based Church Bros. LLC, said excessive heat or rain in various regions is not the only reason for the price spike in some lettuce categories.
“Everybody has cut back their acreage, and that is reflected in commodity prices,” Van Eeghen said. “After last year’s disaster, we needed that. Prices were incredibly low then because of an oversupply. Cutting back has really corrected the overall supply and put the markets where they should be.”
Although California’s summer action for leafy greens is mostly in Salinas and Santa Maria, some crops — like spinach — are grown in other places, and different shippers will enter the lettuce deal as time goes on.
Baloian Farms, for one, will start lettuce in Fresno in October and then transition to the Coachella Valley in November, sales manager Jeremy Lane said. In March, Baloian’s production will shift back to Fresno and finish up in early May. It’s a three-season offering.
“We’ve found our niche and the customers who desire that high-end quality,” Lane said. “We’re looking forward to reengaging those customers when we jump back in in October.”