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California bell pepper pricing up over 2023

California field bell pepper pricing is stronger than this time last year. "Last year, the San Joaquin Valley had pressure from Georgia which was a major player in the deal and competing with us in the same timeframe. We also had pressure from Michigan and Washington–both came in early," says Ed Lopez of Peter Rabbit Farms, adding that the Valley also had a later start last year.

Right now, industrywide, there are bell peppers from North Carolina as well as the southern San Joaquin Valley. "It doesn't sound like there's a lot of production in the lower Midwest at this point," says Lopez. "I think some of the local stuff in the Midwest was affected by a lot of their weather."

He does add for the summer months, there will likely be less field red peppers coming out of California.

With that, the next major growing districts coming on with field peppers outside of California are Washington, Michigan, and New Jersey and they should start around August 1st. "It sounds like due to their weather conditions, it's not going to be an early crop. Maybe more normal than anything else," says Lopez.

As for demand, it has been strong which Lopez says isn't surprising given bell peppers are largely a staple item these days for foodservice particularly. "There's a base in the foodservice business that maintains a good standard of usage," he says.

Local deals ahead
Looking ahead, pricing might fluctuate given it sometimes softens getting into the summer production months. "It should stay consistent until we lose demand to the local deals," he says.

Like growers across the country, California growers are feeling the pressure of increased costs. However, that may be particularly so in California field pepper growing. "They're all hand-picked. There's not a machine that's been designed to harvest those yet so with California's minimum wage and general labor costs that are high, I think everybody is looking at their costs and wondering how much they can actually plant and still be profitable. I think it's going to be a limiting factor as far as acreage goes," Lopez says.

For more information:
Ed Lopez
Peter Rabbit Farms
Tel: +1 (760) 398-0136
[email protected]