Eggplant supplies are transitioning currently making for a strong North American market.
“We’re leaving the growing region of Culiacán and headed to our new summer and fall regions. The market has been very strong and basically reflects that any time we’re in transition time,” says Tony Incaviglia of GR Fresh based in McAllen, TX.
Production is moving to Coahuila, Mexico, and is staying there, along with production on other vegetables such as bell peppers and cucumbers, until November when it returns to Culiacán.
One challenge that is emerging during transition time is an issue around sizing. “Everybody would like on the retail end to have eight to 10 inches of the big plant but unfortunately we’re missing by two to three inches,” says Incaviglia. “So, we’re starting to see a lot of 32 counts rather than 18s and 24s.”
Demand meanwhile has been strong for eggplant. “It’s been a $22+ market for the last few weeks or so. It’s been a pretty good item,” says Incaviglia. “Usually it’s in the $6-$8 range and once in awhile you’ll get a decent market in the $10-$12 range. It’s been in that $20 range now for three weeks.”
He adds that with lighter production out of Mexico currently, lighter production may be happening as well in the rest of North America which would add to the strength of the market.
Looking ahead, Incaviglia anticipates seeing a slower start to the season out of the new region. “As we get into mid-June, usually we’re into some type of rhythm with eggplant and peppers and other items,” he says. “I think the price will stay up there until something happens. Especially with the weather happening in the Southeast. There are high temperatures in Florida but it’s raining every day. We’ll see.”