Supplies of cantaloupe and honeydew melons out of California look to be tightening up. “This week, there’s a change in the industry. We’re now getting a few more calls from other shippers asking if we have extra volume after covering our commitments and contracts to help them cover their commitments,” says Justin Bootz with Legend Produce LLC.
Overall, the industry volume is coming down a bit, largely due to the growing areas in California cooling down. “It’s about that time of year too--most people plant to go through maybe the first week in October so we’re about two weeks from that so everyone’s past their peaks. We usually see volume go down by the end of September,” says Bootz, noting it’s shipping out of Mendota and Dos Palos, California.
At the same time, demand is also moderate on melons given this is a time when retailers shift towards devoting less space to the fruit. “Overall it’s pretty steady and pretty typical for fall. Temperatures around the country are cooling down a bit so that’s all playing a factor,” says Bootz.
Lower demand for smaller sizes
That said, while pricing looks to average, there is some strengthening going on--at the end of last week, prices were hovering around $10-$12, depending on size. Now early this week, prices are between $13-$15. “Jumbo 9s seem to be where there’s the most demand, with quotes as high as $15 for that size. There’s less demand and lower prices for the smaller sizes like 12s and 15s,” says Bootz.
Looking ahead, Bootz believes the transition will be smooth from California’s growing season to Yuma, Arizona which should begin around October 12th and go, weather permitting, to November 15. “We’ll have overlap with the west side crop in California--some fields will go much longer than that in California, maybe through October. There will be some overlap but minimal volume,” he says, adding that the crop looks good in Yuma and volume is anticipated to be similar to last year.