Growers expect strong supply but weak demand, prices

12/04/2013 12:21:00 PM
Mike Hornick

Courtesy Ciruli Bros.Heavy rains in Mexico have delayed some crops for Ciruli Bros., including eggplant by as much as two weeks, partner Chris Ciruli says.Although heavy autumn rains slowed the start of winter vegetable and fruit production for some west Mexico growers, most importers expected any gaps to be negligible and a distant memory by December.

On items such as watermelon, squash and cucumbers, there seemed to be, if anything, too much supply on hand.

“Demand is weak, and prices are low for cucumbers,” Mike Aiton, director of marketing for Coachella, Calif.-based Prime Time International LLC, said Oct. 31. “Everybody in Mexico got started earlier.

"It just seems like anytime in Mexico you get six or eight people handling a product, they seem to be very competitive trying to get the business, and the market suffers because of it.”

“We’re kind of holding back with squash, the market’s been pretty depressed,” Jose Pesqueira, sales manager at Nogales, Ariz.-based Apache Produce Imports LLC, said Nov. 13. “As it improves a bit, we’ll increase volume.

“Everybody comes in at once at this time of the year,” Pesqueira said. “You’ve still got product on the East Coast and out of San Diego. Nogales doesn’t seem to work until you start getting more involved with tomatoes.”

Storms boost water supply

Hurricane Manuel hit parts of Mexico in September, followed by Hurricane Raymond in October.

“The hurricane that hit down by Acapulco inched up the coast, got over Culiacan and hung around as a tropical storm that dropped a whole lot of water — 24 inches in some places,” said Lance Jungmeyer, president of Fresh Produce Association of the Americas.

“Luckily that was not long after seeds had gone in, so growers either replanted or were able to save their crops.”

On the bright side, the region’s depleted reservoirs enjoyed much-needed replenishment. That spared growers and Mexican regulators some tough decisions about which crops could be planted, and how much.

“I think we’ll see crop volumes pretty similar to last year,” Jungmeyer said. “If there’s an excellent market in Mexico, less may come to the U.S.”

Watermelon pricing tough

Prices on Sonora watermelon took a tumble as winter neared.

“We’ve seen high production out of the area, which is really affecting this market,” Brent Harrison, president of Nogales, Ariz.-based Harrison Fresh, said Nov. 6.

“Lately it’s been light demand with strong volume, and that’s caused our prices to fall,” he said.


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