Fewer plantings of California leafy greens are expected to result in less shipments during the next few months. This is because of declines in foodservice demand related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
RaboResearch conversations with vegetable shippers reveal they are likely to cut acreage by 10 to 15 percent over the next 60 days.
Because of reduced demand over the past six weeks, growers for foodservice have walked away from fields. Many are hoping to redirect shipments to retailers.
The acreage not being used now represents 50 to 85 percent of the land normally planted for product destined to restaurants, schools and other foodservice accounts. Vegetables generally are directed to foodservice accounts more than fruits. Tomatoes and lettuce are two of the higher volume vegetables going to foodservice.
About 15 percent of fresh fruit is shipped for foodservice.
Increased shipments to retail have helped compensate for lagging foodservice demand.
Retail statistics for the four weeks ending April 12 reveal fresh produce sales increased 17 percent compared with the same period last year.
Fresh fruit sales were up about 9 percent for the four-week period, while fresh vegetable sales were up 25 percent.
Orange sales for the period were up 55 percent, but sales of grapes, melons and pears were down.
The 25 percent overall increase in vegetables was highlighted by gains in potatoes and sweet potatoes, at 80 percent and 55 increases, respectively.
Packaged salad sales for the four-week period ending April 12 were up only 7 percent.
On the plus side foodservice shipments are likely to increase when states end lockdowns.