Market Update For Berries

Week of August 19 – August 25

As we head to the last two weeks of August, overall plant health and productivity in Salinas and Watsonville continues to decline and we’ve seen pack-outs drop as low as 750K flats per day. With no consistency or predictability in daily volumes, we will see another week of FOB’s ranging widely from grower to grower. Santa Maria’s summer crop is still hanging in with 200k-300k flats per day, although we can expect to see those numbers jump a bit over the next 10-14 days as fall plantings begin to come online. We could see a slight overlap and bump in overall production as the summer crop in Watsonville finishes up and the fall crop in Santa Maria gets started.  However, overall quality from Salinas and Watsonville is taking a downward turn as the plants are running out of gas. As we head to the end of the summer cycle, overall berry size is challenged and growers are hesitant to pack 4/2# clamshells. With counts in the high teens and low 20’s it takes more fruit to pack into a clam, and with more berries comes a higher potential for bruising. This late in the cycle, it’s typical to see 5%-10% bruising at shipping point, which can progress to varying degrees of decay on arrival. With continued strong retail demand, expectations are to see availability remain fairly limited this week with pricing ranging from $12-$14. Daily volumes will once again fluctuate from grower to grower, leaving most of the business left to daily trading.