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Warmer weather affects US broccoli market

After weather conditions returned to normal last week, broccoli production increased again in the growing regions in California and Mexico. This heralded a drop in the market which had just a week before seen very high prices. Growers say that around the start of the year, persistently cold weather had frozen the ground and slowed production.

"The broccoli market has come off significantly from its high a couple of weeks ago," observed Mark Sato of Fortune Growers. "The cold weather in California, followed by Mexico, saw FOBs rise into the mid-$30s out of California, and the mid-$20s across the border."

He added that broccoli had become very difficult to source for a period. However, things have turned around after conditions returned to normal. "Although still cool, the weather in Mexico has resembled some normalcy since the middle of January and production has improved. California was also expected to increase production again." As a result, broccoli movement has resumed a more normal pace.

Market entering quieter period
With improved supplies and prices lower than a few weeks ago, suppliers suggest that the market could stay low for the foreseeable future. One reason is that February is traditionally a slower period for broccoli, with little to enhance overall movement.

"Any pull for Chinese New Year has long passed and there are no real holidays coming up that would encourage broccoli promotions," Sato noted. "For the foreseeable future, the broccoli market is expected to remain low. Mexico has dropped, and California has followed suit."

Strategies for year-round production
Fortune Growers has established a robust, year-round supply of broccoli. It's taken patience and careful planning to get to this stage however, with trials and seed varieties all part of the strategy to ensure steady supplies at any time of the year. Some regions, such as Puebla, can grow broccoli for much of the year, but Sato said higher elevations are also utilized.

"A good amount of growers finish up in April," he explained. "However we transition to higher elevations to assist with our year-round growth strategy. We have also planted different varieties that are more resilient to the summer temperatures, while also considering how to stay on top of conditions as the climate continues to change."

Along with planting locations and different broccoli varieties, Fortune Growers are also utilizing technology to help combat some of the issues broccoli typically faces in the heat and humidity of summer. "We are currently implementing new technology in the field which will monitor the moisture in the ground and regulate it," Sato shared. "This is being installed right now ahead of the coming summer. We are also changing the schedule of our spraying for the spring and summer seasons in order to find a better resolution against pin rot."

New premium label to be launched soon
While Fortune Growers continues to implement strategies in the field to further increase its year-round offerings, the company is also looking to launch a new label in the near future. According to Sato, it will focus on premium product.

"Fortune Growers will most likely be launching a new label of our own called Fortune Platinum," he said. "This will be an ultra-premium box shipping out of California."

For more information:
Mark Sato
Fortune Growers
Ph: +1 (805) 481-1055

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