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.”
Alberto Maldonado, general manager of Nogales-based Apache Produce Co., said Easter is a bonus to business, whenever it comes.
“We get good demand before any holiday,” he said.
San Diego-based Andrew & Williamson Fresh Produce prefers a later Easter, said Mark Munger, vice president of marketing.
“I think it tends to suit the produce industry,” he said. “They keep things active and it keeps a lot of interest pre-Easter. A lot of people get excited about Easter and we run a lot of ads and we always run into this little slowdown post-Easter.”
It’s not just Easter’s timing that is working out well this year, Munger said.
“All the holidays are kind of playing themselves out nicely this year,” he said. “They’re spaced very nicely.”
He mentioned Thanksgiving and Christmas coming one month apart, as well as Easter and Memorial Day, coming at roughly that interval.
A later Easter will create promotional opportunities for more than vegetables, said Steve Yubeta, vice president of sales at Nogales-based Farmer’s Best International LLC.
“It seems like we’ll be able to participate more with our spring crops with some melons in a small way, versus last year or other years when they weren’t quite ready, when production got started after the holiday,” he said.
Look for plenty of retail promotions on watermelons, said Brent Harrison, president of Nogales-based Al Harrison Co. Distributors.
“A late Easter is going to be great for our watermelons,” he said. “We normally see a big push for that time period.”
There will be lots of Easter ads, said Bob Shipley, owner of Nogales-based Shipley Sales Service.
“Quite a few chains feature asparagus for Easter, and that means starting about the second week in April or even a little before that,” he said. “But you still have to deal with February and March. And a lot depends on if California comes off early or late.
“Their acreage is reported to be declining, but Mexico’s is increasing slightly.”