Mother Nature’s effects on California and other regions of the U.S. could help stimulate demand for Santa Maria vegetables.

A cold snap in Santa Maria also could lead to some interesting marketing situations this spring, said Henry Dill, sales manager for Salinas, Calif.-based Pacific International Marketing.

“It could be a challenge to fill gaps,” he said. “We had a little longer stay in the desert than we anticipated.”

Pacific International shipped vegetables from Yuma, Ariz., about a week and a half longer than usual, Dill said.

But even with a longer desert deal, the company could still be scrambling to meet demand early in the deal.

“Salinas is also 10 days behind,” he said. “We’re used to having two areas in production, and we only have one. It could be a challenge to get all our orders out.”

The second half of April should go much smoother once Salinas production begins ramping up, Dill said.

Even after that, though, demand could be affected by yet another factor, Dill said.

“Because of the cooler weather on the East Coast, we’re anticipating we should have a little more sustained demand from the East than we had last year.”

Eastern homegrown deals likely won’t come into production a month early, like they did last year, Dill said.

Lower acreage on some California-grown items, in anticipation of Eastern competition that may not be there this year, also should spur demand for some Santa Maria vegetables.

Pacific International expects stronger summer demand on head and leaf lettuces, in particular, Dill said.

“We pulled in the reins a bit for the summer months” because of anticipated local-deal demand east of the Mississippi, Dill said. “Spring won’t be a whole lot different.”

Brent Scattini, vice president of sales for Santa Maria-based Gold Coast Packing Inc. said he thought planting gaps could lead to stronger demand for broccoli in April, but so far it hasn’t turned out that way.

“There are some shortages. The question is how bad will it be when all is said and done,” he said. “The interesting thing is, I thought the markets would respond.”

Scattini said he expected that response to begin in the last week of March.

The reason it didn’t likely is due to large inventories already in coolers, he said.

“I imagined there would be a little bit better activity out there,” he said.

Scattini did report good quality on the broccoli Gold Coast was shipping in April.

Looking ahead, one area where Gold Coast expects to see continued strong demand throughout 2013 is in the greens category, Scattini said.

The company packs for C.H. Robinson’s Glory Foods line of greens, and Scattini said he’s looking forward to robust growth in volumes this year.

“More and more consumers are eating collards, kale and other greens,” he said.