Supplies of broccoli out of California are down overall but they are slightly better than a few weeks ago.
“Two weeks ago, supplies were down about 50 percent overall,” says Ryan Bitter of Salinas, CA-based Steinbeck Country Produce Inc. who ships its broccoli in the Nature's Reward label “We ran into some industry-wide quality issues in Salinas. What was most prevalent was pin rot.”
One issue could be the two heat spells that hit different parts of the region 10 days apart. “It’s getting better but I’m starting to hear rumblings that there may be an issue with pin rot again this week,” says Bitter.
Supplies of broccoli are currently coming from a number of regions along with Salinas including Santa Maria, CA but also Canada and Mexico.
At the same time, demand is strengthening. “Demand going into July 4th seems a little better than Memorial Day,” says Bitter. He notes that while retail demand has been strong, it’s still continuing to strengthen. “And depending on where you are in the U.S., some foodservice demand is coming back and that’s adding fuel to this market,” says Bitter. “It’s coming back slow and steady.”
Solid broccoli pricing
All of that has created a strong market for broccoli. “Pricing one week ago was very good. The market was a $30 market and it went on for a solid two weeks,” says Bitter. That pricing is coming down slightly but still at a good price. “We’re in that in between time now and we’re waiting to see where the market will settle at,” says Bitter.
That’s a different picture from last year at this time when supplies were more consistent, and pricing was down.
However, looking ahead is a bit of a wait and see situation. “A lot depends on what happens with quality,” says Bitter. “If the quality comes back online, I think you’ll see a softening of the market. But if more foodservice opens up, that could also create more market opportunities. If the quality issues stick around for another couple of weeks, that could keep supplies down and the market going a bit.”