Market Update For Strawberries

Week of May 25 – May 31

Rain in Watsonville and Santa Maria early last week didn’t seem to slow down production.  Pack-outs last week kept hitting record numbers topping 1.8 million flats packed last Wednesday. Although we saw an increase in rejections, the supply chain was undisrupted and production continued at a brisk pace. Overall demand heading into the Memorial Day holiday was lighter than expected with many growers looking to cut deals to move on-hand inventories. With retailers promoting cherries and watermelon, consumers clearly had more options to choose from this holiday, finally bringing more competition to the berry category. Retailers seemed to front load volumes leading into the holiday, leaving overall demand lackluster by the end of the week. With other commodities still garnering high FOB’s, California strawberries should continue to be promoted in weekly circulars. With overall spot market FOB’s adjusting lower last week, most growers were able to keep coolers clean. With Oxnard now completely done packing for the fresh market, west side Santa Maria and Watsonville/Salinas will shoulder the load. Overall quality and condition improved significantly by the end of last week and we can expect to see very good quality continue from those regions going forward. With clear skies expected this week, look for overall production numbers to stay well over 1 million flats per day with the spot market ranging from $8-$10 FOB. If demand pulls back again, we may see some growers cutting deals by the weekend.