Cantaloupe and honeydew prices are zooming with the temperatures out West, and suppliers were expecting prices to stay high at least into mid-July.
“Prices have doubled, basically,” said Bruce Frasier, president of Dixondale Farms Inc., Carrizo Springs, Texas.
The price spike is directly related to a heat wave that sent parts of Arizona and California into triple-digits for daytime high temperatures, Frasier said.
“They had that heat wave, so the number of loads coming out of Arizona and California have dropped about 60%, so there’s not hardly any fruit coming out of there,” Frasier said.
Prices before the heat wave were around $6.50-7 but jumped to the $17 range, Frasier said.
No pricing information was available from the U.S. Department of Agriculture on any sizes from the Imperial Valley and Palo Verde Valley districts of California and central and western Arizona June 30; however, as of June 26, 1/2-cartons of cantaloupes from those districts were $16.95-22.95 for size 9s. A year earlier, the same product was $6.50-8.95 for size 9s and $7-8.95 for size 12s.
Prices on 2/3-cartons of honeydews out of the Imperial and Palo Verde valleys June 29 were $15.95-16.95 for both sizes 5s and 6s. A year earlier, they were $6-7.95
Frasier said he is the only Texas cantaloupe grower, and most of his fruit will stay in the region.
Prices likely will remain where they are for the next two weeks, Frasier said.
“That same heat wave hit the California Westside deal, hurt their early production,” he said June 30. “We have about two weeks to go, so this should take us through the rest of our season.”
Growers in the East weren’t having as much trouble with supplies as colleagues out West, said Josh Knox melons category manager with Eden Prairie, Minn.-based Robinson Fresh.
“Supply in the East seems to be doing fine; of course, it has to do with supply and demand,” he said.
“The heat wave, of course, helped decrease the supply of melons out of the Imperial Valley, Arizona and along the Colorado River,” said Steve Couture, partner in Huron, Calif.-based Couture Farms, which grows honeydews and specialty melons.
The heat wave cut the Imperial Valley deal short, said Stephen Thomason, salesman with Fresno, Calif.-based Crown Jewels Marketing.
“When you get to 122-124 (degrees), it’s going to affect it,” Thomason said.
Crown Jewels was expecting to start getting shipments from California’s Westside district around July 10, Thomason said.
After that, prices should moderate, he said.
That deal, like many other commodities in California, was slowed by weather earlier this year, not recent heat waves, Thomason said.
“I think the cooler winter-spring kind of pushed everything back,” he said.
Prices likely will stay up well into July, Couture said.
“There’s a shortage, and people are having trouble finding them,” he said.
The same held for watermelons, said Bradley O’Neal, owner of Coosaw Farms, a watermelon grower in Fairfax, S.C.
“Out West, (prices are) definitely sky-high; they’re actually pulling some from the East Coast out West, it’s so high,” O’Neal said.