Water shortages down in Mexico have been a big issue this year. While the situation improved in recent weeks with more rainfall, the gap hasn’t been made up yet. “At the moment, water levels are still behind by 60 to 70 percent compared to normal levels,” says Frank Camera with Delta Fresh Produce. As a result of water shortages, a stronger winter vegetable market is expected.
Colored bell peppers
Delta Fresh is coming off a good fall season. “We just finished a successful cantaloupe program and will be back in the market with cantaloupes for the spring season.” The company’s colored bell pepper program will be starting this week. All bell peppers are grown in shade houses in Guaymas. “The micro-climate in this region gives us an advantage with temperature controls and allows us to grow all winter through March,” commented Camera. “It’s a big benefit that we don’t have to go all the way down to Culiacán in Sinaloa, saving valuable transportation time and costs.”
Stronger squash market
In addition to colored bell peppers, Delta Fresh has added a full-season squash program. Currently, production is out of Hermosillo Sonora, but product will transition to be grown in the winter months out in Navojoa and Guaymas Sonora, benefiting from being closer to the coast and the region’s micro-climate. “Pricewise, it was the ugliest fall I’ve seen,” said Camera. “Thankfully, we didn’t have any production back then and now on a positive note, the squash market has improved. Going into Thanksgiving prices moved into the low to mid- teens and seem to be holding, providing decent returns to the growers. The stronger market is the result of cooler weather and harvesting ending with the fall/winter production transition upon us.”
Eggplant is another new commodity for Delta Fresh and their first product arrived in the US this week. The season for Delta is expected to go through March. While Delta has traditionally been known for being a tomato house, the company’s owner Atanasio Panousopoulos decided to start diversifying a few years ago. “About 85 percent of our business has traditionally been tomatoes, 12 percent cucumbers, and three percent odds and ends. However, the goal is to develop into 50 percent tomatoes and 50 percent other commodities over the next five years,” Camera shared.
The latest development at Delta Fresh is a new warehouse. “We are about to move into a new facility that’s across the street from our current facility,” Camera said. It’s a 157,000 square foot warehouse with 46 dock doors. In addition, there will be a USDA designated inspection area for offloading and staging of table grapes and tomatoes. This past year, 250,000 packages of grapes were handled by Delta Fresh, and the expectation is to grow to 400,000 in 2024.