Leafy greens are seeing a good supply out of Yuma, Arizona. Ratto Bros Inc., has a variety of greens underway out of the region, including Romaine, Red and Green leaf, Bok Choy, Baby Bok Choy, and cabbages along with greens (collard, kale, Curly & Flat mustards, turnip), Beets, Leeks, Parsley, Italian Parsley, and Cilantro. "It's been warm, though it's cooling down a little bit, and there've been no hiccups," says Frank Ratto. "Last year, we had a big problem in Salinas (California) with the virus killing the leaf lettuces, and then we had the rains. This transition is a little smoother, and we're going from good weather to good weather, so I think there won't be many leafy greens commodity gaps as we've seen in the past."
Supply compared to last year's crop is seeing a slight rise only. "We more or less plant to our contracts with a little bit of free market product to sell on top of that," Ratto says.
To help with demand, Ratto Bros. also started a packaged greens line this year with collards, mustard, turnip, green, and Lacinato kale, as well as a blend of collard, mustard, and turnip greens. "The processing plant just started about six months ago, so what we were doing in bulk product on those greens we're now also doing in packaged," says Ratto, noting that demand is good for greens. It also just received the packaging as well to supply organic kale in Canada.
The influence of logistics
Packaged greens is an area the grower-shipper had planned to get into, partly because customers are looking for more one-stop shopping. "Logistics are so challenging and expensive, so anytime a retailer can load, say, 35 to 45 different items in one stop, it's a huge advantage for everybody," says Ratto.
Given the smooth transition and no gaps in production, pricing should stay fairly steady for the next while weather permitting. "The winter season is predicated by weather. If we get reasonable weather in the Western part of the U.S. and Mexico, we'll have a smooth winter. If there's crazy weather, we don't know what will happen," Ratto adds.
Production will stay in the region until the start of April.