Labor shortages continue across all sectors of the food service industry, manifesting in higher prices for consumers as employers compete to hire and keep employees. Signs urging patrons to “be patient” due to staffing shortages are now common in dine-in and carryout establishments alongside postings for mask requirements and social distancing regulations.
Demand for produce commodities very much depends on their intended use – berries of all types remain in high demand for healthy home snacking and desserts, but tomatoes, especially those varieties which have been optimized for foodservice applications, continue to suffer in the marketplace.
Movement of Mexican asparagus crossing thorough Calexico, California and San Luis, Arizona is again expected to decrease seasonally. Trading and demand are moderate with most shippers packing in 11-pound cartons and prices trending slightly higher. Most shipments are still being booked at previously committed prices and there is a wide range in quality.
Asparagus shipments out of Peru have begun, but supplies are insufficient to establish a market. Significant transportation delays and other Covid-related factors have limited shipments to U.S. markets. Movement out of the central district of California is expected to remain about the same. Trading was fairly active at slightly higher prices on light supplies. Most shipments are currently being booked at previously committed prices.
Light harvesting continues in the Walla Walla district and lower Yakima Valley, Washington with cool weather forecast through the weekend along with possible showers further delaying harvest. Most supplies continue to be sent to local markets, with price reporting expected by the end of the month.
Movement of blueberries from Mexico crossing through Arizona, California and Texas is expected to increase slightly. Trading was active to very active at slightly higher prices though quality remains variable. Movement out of central and north Florida is expected to remain about the same the current week and decrease next week due to continued rain affecting maturity and curtailing some harvests. Trading was active with prices higher.
Movement of blueberries out of the south and central district of California is expected to continue seasonal increase, with current supplies insufficient to establish a market. Price reporting is expected to begin by the end of the month. Quality is reported as variable. Initial light harvest has begun out of southern Georgia and is expected to increase as weather permits. The growing regions were experiencing a cold wave this week which limited some harvests.