Larger volume shipments are being reported for bananas, limes and Brussel sprouts.
Imported bananas have been light in recent months because of inclement weather and other unfavorable conditions in numerous banana producing countries.
However, supplies are expected to improve in coming weeks, although the first quarter of 2018 has presented serious challenges.
About 85 percent of bananas shipped to the U.S. in 2017 came from Guatemala, Costa Rica, Ecuador and Honduras. American importers have reported issues affecting production in three of those four countries as well as in others.
Temperatures have been as much as 10 degrees below normal for several weeks in Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico, slowing fruit growth, production and yield.
There also has been excess rainfall and flooding in Costa Rica and Panama that have damaged plantations, infrastructure, roads and bridges. There also has been high winds and waves causing delays in shipping. Combine these factors with national instability and supply interruptions in Honduras, and the result supplies being much tighter than normal.
Rain in Mexico’s Veracruz growing region reduced lime imports by the U.S., but observers expect improved shipments by the middle of April. The f.o.b. price on limes had doubled from mid February to mid March. Erratic weather in Mexico often makes March a difficult time of year for the lime shipments and so far in 2018 it hasn’t been any different.
Mexico provided 93 percent of total U.S. lime imports in mid-March, with the remaining light volume from Colombia, Guatemala, Honduras and Peru. Lime volume should return to normal levels by May.
It seems Brussels sprouts may be the latest trendy vegetable in America and that has led to increased production and shipments.
The volume of fresh Brussels sprouts shipped hit 78.9 million pounds, up 9 percent during the past year. Domestic fresh Brussels sprout shipments totaled 3.03 million 25-pound cartons in 2016, up from 752,000 cartons in 2010. Imported fresh Brussels sprouts totaled 4.5 million (25-pound) cartons, up from 1.06 million cartons in 2010.
In California, 2016 USDA statistics show peak shipments of Brussels sprouts occurred in November, when 22 percent of the state’s crop was shipped. The four-month period of September through December accounted for 68 percent of the state’s total Brussels sprouts shipments.