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US acreage down this year

Light supplies of import watermelons see good demand

Supplies of watermelons currently are slimmer.

Dennis Peterson of Riverbend Fresh LLC in Kerman, CA says lighter supplies of watermelons are coming from central Mexico into McAllen, TX and more limited supplies into Nogales, AZ. “The quality is okay and the sizing is normal. We’re seeing a repeat of last year. I see it being lighter as we transition out of Mexico and up into California,” says Peterson. “The market is very tight right now and at $250-$300/bin.”

That said, he adds that new fields will break at the end of the month and into the first part of April. “And last year the market was, in the same window, $250-$300 as well,” he says.

He notes that this year though, there has been less imported product on the West Coast, possibly due to port backlogs and high freight costs.

Spring domestic product
Mexican product is anticipated into late May and that’s when supplies will start coming on in California, Arizona and some, possibly earlier in May, from Texas.

However, Peterson anticipates domestic acreage to be down. “This is because of drought, increasing costs of labor and materials, market uncertainty coming out of COVID--all of it,” he says.

To meet those greater spring volumes will likely be greater spring demand. “Right now there’s good demand because there’s not a lot of product. We’re seeing good demand in warmer regions such as Southern California. Demand is based on climate,” Peterson says. “If there was magically a whole bunch of melons around suddenly, it would be too many.”

Looking ahead, he says the challenge will be maintaining consistency with supplies. “Everything on the horizon is uncertain other than we already know supplies will be lighter on the West Coast compared to previous years,” he says. “And we shouldn’t expect a bunch of deals or cheap trucks. Don’t have a lot of expectations.”

For more information:
Dennis Peterson
Riverbend Fresh LLC.
Tel: +1 (559) 846-3320 

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