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US (CA): Weather leads to saturated cauliflower market

Fed by weather conditions amenable to strong production, cauliflower supplies have spiked in California. That, combined with a post-Thanksgiving dip in demand, has resulted in lower prices.

“Supplies of cauliflower are abundant right now,” said Danny Fleming of Beachside Produce in Guadalupe, California. He added that light rain and warm weather near Salinas, California spurred on a spike in production, and that, combined with slack demand, has meant low prices. He estimated that prices, which hovered between $10 and $14 per box last week, could drop as low as $9 per box this week. It's typical for supplies of winter vegetables, especially cauliflower, to be affected by swings in the weather, he said, so while volume has spiked right now because of favorable conditions, the situation could change rapidly should conditions shift.

“When you get to winter, you just need frost for two or three days for supplies to shut down fast,” said Fleming.

Imported cauliflower from Mexico is also in abundant supply, noted Linda Kivlehan of Coastline Produce in Salinas, California. She also attributed the bump in supplies this year to warmer weather.

“The weather, especially in the desert, has been warmer,” she said. “It's about 10 to 20 degrees warmer than usual, so there's a lot of supply for the demand available.” She added that because of the situation, only the best cauliflower is being shipped right now, so consumers can purchase very good quality vegetables at low prices. But with cooler weather on the horizon, prices could jump up again.

“We shouldn't have an overabundance of cauliflower right now, but that's just what happens when it gets warm,” she said. “But there's a cooling trend that's coming next week, so that should slow down production.”

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