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Active broccoli market may persist after California transition

The broccoli market has become very active in recent times, as cold weather has slowed down plant growth and subsequently diminished supply. Prices have risen sharply in response and suppliers say there is not enough supply to meet current demand. Compounding the issue are contracts for sectors like foodservice and freezer customers that are absorbing a lot of the available volume.

"Weather conditions for the last 14 days have been very cold," said Vince Rosa of V&H Fresh. "As a result, production has dropped significantly and there is nowhere near enough supply to meet the demand. This has created a supply gap and we have seen prices rise from around $5.00 up to $16.00, even $18.00. There are millions of pounds of freezer and foodservice contracts that have priority before supplies can focus on the open market. This is also driving the active market."

Likely to continue for the foreseeable future
In a few weeks, the desert regions will finish their season and broccoli production will transition further north into central parts of California. However, this area has also experienced cold temperatures and crops appear to be in a state of dormancy. Therefore, Rosa predicts that supplies will continue to be short and the market elevated even after the transition to the next region.

"Most of the broccoli is currently coming out of Yuma and the Imperial Valley, as well as some imported from Mexico," he said. "By the end of March, temperatures typically start rising into the 90s in these parts, signaling the end of the broccoli season there. From there, we will see a transition to Santa Maria and Salinas. The problem is, weather there has been much cooler also, with lows in the 30s. Broccoli is very protective of itself and quickly goes into dormancy which is what we're seeing in California right now. So supplies are likely to remain tight and the market is predicted to remain like it is now for at least another 6 weeks."

Next growth will be exports
Broccoli has enjoyed a mature market in the United States. It has been made available in many different forms, from fresh crowns, to florets, as well as being included in various value added products. With demand remaining strong and not many other options for the vegetable, suppliers suggest that exports may see the next growth phase for broccoli.

"It seems they've come up with every type of packaging imaginable when it comes to broccoli," Rosa said. "Now it's all about the promotion and we see that ad driven promotions are particularly helpful. There is still a lot of demand and we have observed good growth in overseas markets, such as Taiwan. Exports are an area where we can see growth into the future."

For more information:
Vince Rosa
V&H Fresh, LLC
Tel: +1 (209) 599-4340

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