Cool weather delays start of Western greenhouse deals - The Packer

Cool weather delays start of Western greenhouse deals

01/10/2011 10:15:47 AM
Andy Nelson

Unseasonably cool weather in Mexico has delayed shipments of greenhouse vegetables by as much as 10-14 days for many shippers and importers of greenhouse tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers.

Typically, Nogales, Ariz.-based Ciruli Bros. LLC. begins getting product in early December, said Chris Ciruli, a partner in the company. This year, it’s closer to Dec. 15-20.

“We’re a little behind from where we want to be,” he said.

Volume shipments of tomatoes, bell peppers and cucumbers won’t likely begin until January, Ciruli said.

But even in a normal year, the company doesn’t have enough greenhouse product to promote substantially for Christmas and New Year’s, so Ciruli Bros. is not missing a big marketing opportunity because of the delays, Ciruli said.

With its Canadian greenhouse tomato, cucumber and pepper deals winding down, Leamington, Ontario-based Westmoreland Sales was sourcing greenhouse peppers from Mexico and, by plane, from Spain in December, said Matt Wright, the company’s director of procurement.

Cool growing weather in Mexico had tightened supplies heading into the winter holidays and driven prices up, but overall, production should be up in 2010-11, Wright said.

“Right now we’re behind where we were a year ago, but it will catch up, probably very shortly,” he said.

“There will be a lot of product in January.”

Coachella, Calif.-based Prime Time International LLC expects to ship about similar volumes of red, orange and yellow greenhouse bell peppers from its Coachella Valley houses as it did last year, said Mike Aiton, the company’s marketing director.

“Our California acreage hasn’t changed,” Aiton said.

The company’s California greenhouse deal kicked off Oct. 15 and is expected to continue into May, Aiton said.

“It’s a nice, long season,” he said. “The temperatures are mild, and the extra heat helps keep the peppers growing.”

Prime Time packs its California greenhouse peppers at its Mecca, Calif., packinghouse, Aiton said.

The company’s Mexican deal, meanwhile, also was in full swing by late fall, Aiton said, with peak volumes from its Baja California greenhouse colored bell deal expected in December and January.

Mainland greenhouse volumes, from its Guadalajara greenhouses and imported through Nogales, Ariz., were expected until April, Aiton said.

Bryant Ambelang, president and chief executive officer of San Antonio-based Desert Glory Ltd., said he had “great” expectations heading into the heart of the 2010-11 greenhouse tomato season.

“It’s definitely different from last year, when everybody had weather problems,” he said.

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