Late Easter means big sales for vegetables and more, shippers say

02/11/2011 03:43:16 PM
Jim Offner

In 2011, Easter falls on April 24, one of the latest days possible. It won’t fall as late again until 2038.

For growers and shippers of vegetables from west Mexico, where Easter retail promotions are concerned, the later the holiday comes, the better.

“For whatever reason, Easter is a key for when people think about either stop buying here or buying from another district,” said Chris Ciruli, a partner with Nogales, Ariz.-based grower-shipper Ciruli Bros.

“If you have an early Easter in March, people tend to think about getting out of this area and going somewhere else in April. They think about setting their promotions around Easter, so it tends to give us a better pull in April because guys are setting up their Easter pulls.”

A late Easter this year will give suppliers of west Mexico product plenty of time to run a variety of retail promotions, Ciruli said.

“That tends to help us out for two reasons,” he said. “One is, we’re winding down crops and you’re getting those crops moved out and, two, you’re getting into some of the summertime/spring items where we’re the first guys to jump back into melons, the first guys to jump into mangoes and get some of that stuff going for Easter promotions.”

That’s important, because promotional programs need plenty of lead time to plan and execute, Ciruli said.

“I know it’s hard to say you’re already thinking about spring, but in this world of produce we live in, everybody’s running ads six weeks out, and we’re looking at March promotions (in January),” he said. “You get more items out and you’re able to be in promotions longer.”

Post-Easter sales, in some years, tend to hit a lull, so a later holiday will keep things humming longer, said John McDaniel, sales manager with Nogales-based Meyer Tomatoes LLC.

“I think it’s going to help,” he said. “After Easter, it’s kind of slow for us. It always happens like that. But being late is going to help a lot. People eat more vegetables and more tomatoes, so I think it’s going to help us keep moving fruit.”

It’s particularly helpful when markets are strong, said Steve LeFevre, sales manager for Wholesum Family Farms, an organic vegetable grower-shipper in Nogales.

“Our prices are pretty strong going into March, so, yeah, given that opportunity for one more push, it would be great, especially for us in the tomato and tomato-on-the-vine category, where we start to hit pretty decent production when spring starts.”

Easter’s timing this year may be ideal, LeFevre said.

“We only go into May, so we’re kind of winding down anyway,” he said. “But once we hit springtime, our tomato production almost doubles, so that’s a great opportunity for us to run those two products for our Easter push.”


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