Organic lettuces are transitioning from Yuma, Arizona, back to Salinas, California, at the moment.
Organic lettuce is transitioning back to Salinas from Yuma.
“In general, lettuce seems to be in good supply and widely available. Chard supply is tight while spinach and arugula are very difficult to get right now,” says Patty Emmert of Duncan Family Farms in Goodyear, Arizona. “Transition time always creates some disruption in the supply chain, but we are seeing more challenges than usual with product quality and insect damage this year. Spinach and arugula are where we are experiencing most of the current supply issues.”
As for demand, Emmert notes that Duncan Family Farms’ products are all now Certified Sustainably Grown by SGS and says it is generally strong throughout the U.S. for May, which happens to be National Salad Month. In mid to late June, sales begin to dip again.
Left: Kelsey Neppel of Duncan Family Farms; right: a White Sonoran Wheatberries with Spring Mix and Roasted Badger Flame Beets and Watermelon Radish salad that Duncan Family Farms created for National Salad Month.
The rise of CEA
At the same time, Emmert says that there is an increase in Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA) platforms growing lettuce and greens for salad blends. “These production models tend to focus more on local distribution and provide the ability to grow salad greens in climates where open field production may be limited or not an option,” she says.
Meanwhile, growers generally also continue to be challenged by increased costs on a number of fronts, including inputs, labor, fuel, transportation, and more.
The quality of organic lettuces is expected to improve in the next week or two.
Looking ahead, Emmert notes the quality of organic lettuces will improve in the next week or two. “Spinach supplies should get better next week but still expect to struggle with arugula for the next couple of weeks,” she says.