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Peruvian Citrus Should be Up 4% with Normal Start

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Peru expects to export up to 270,000 tons of citrus fruits (oranges, mandarins, limes, lemons, and grapefruit) during 2023, according to a report by the Peruvian Citrus Growers’ Association (ProCitrus),

Despite a late start on season harvest, this is a 4% volume increase compared to 2022 which had 259,000 tons exported.

ProCitrus reports early varieties are a bit behind and the first peak of the season is expected to arrive at the end of April and May.

Exports will continue until August, led by a sharp drop in the first flower, which means the season will be marked by the volumes of the second and third flowers. 

Last season, exports were challenged by high transport costs and the war in Ukraine. Many citrus producers were forced to switch to other fruits, which has reduced crops, especially mandarins and oranges, by an average of 8%.

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Mexico, Peru Dominate Berry Volume, According to USDA Report

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A recent detailed 18-page National Berry Report by the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service details volumes of berries placed in the market since Jan. 1, 2023. It offers information on strawberries, blueberries, blackberries and raspberries from the U.S., Canada, and Latin America.

Peruvian Blueberries

Peru produces about 68 percent of the blueberries in the market so far this year.

The market has received a total of 112.3 million flats of blueberries, up from 101.2 million a year ago so far this year. Peru has shipped 76.1 million flats of blueberries in 2023. For the same dates in 2022, Peru provided 60.3 million flats.

Running a distant second this year is Chilean blueberry volume, which still accounts for a strong 17.2 million flats. This is up from 14.5 million a year ago.

Mexico’s volume to the market is slightly down this year, to 11.4 million blueberry flats, about a million below the 2022 figure.

The state of Georgia dropped way off this winter, from 11.5 million flats early in 2022 to 6.7 million thus far in 2023. Also, Argentina’s blueberry volume to the U.S. this year is significantly down by 1.2 million, to less than 700,000 flats so far in 2023.

Colombia and Uruguay are both slightly down as blueberry sources, collectively accounting for less than 200,000 flats.

Mexican Strawberries

Since the first of the year, strawberry volume from Mexico, totaling 26.7 million flats, almost equals the combined total from California and Florida.  

California has shipped 13.7 million flats so far in 2023. Oxnard provided 13.5 million of those total California flats. With Florida providing 14.1 million, the two states in 2023 have combined to ship 27.3 million flats of strawberries.

Florida’s 2023 volume is down year-on-year, from 16.0 million year-on-year. California’s strawberry volume has dropped from 16.7 million a year ago.

Mexico’s volume is up three million flats to date over 2022. A year ago, Mexico’s total strawberry exports to the U.S. totaled 23.6 million flats.

Pharr, TX, is significantly increasing its lead as the strongest Mexican strawberry crossing point. To date in 2023, Pharr’s strawberry volume is 17.6 million flats, up from 14.3 million a year ago. Laredo, TX, rose to 6.0 million flats, up from 4.2 million flats of strawberries in the first six weeks of 2022. The other significant crossing point for Mexican strawberries this year is Otay Mesa (San Diego, CA) which is down two million flats to 3.0 million.

Raspberries and Blackberries

USDA figures show very consistent volumes for both raspberries and blackberries entering the market this year, compared to the same period in 2022. The 2023 blackberry volume is 27.9 million flats, versus 27.3 million in 2022. Raspberry volume for 2023 is 29.9 million flats, up slightly from 28.5 million a year ago.

Mexico is the overwhelming raspberry source, providing all but 300,000 flats for the U.S. market so far. California’s raspberry volume plummeted from a half-million flats in early 2022 to a quarter-million so far this year. So far this year, Canada and Guatemala combine for 38,000 flats of raspberries.

Mexico has supplied about 62 percent of the blackberries for the U.S. market so far this year. Mexico’s blackberry volume this year is up around 1.5 million flats to 17.3 million. All other sources of blackberries account for 10.2 million flats, with California shipping 9.3 million flats into the early 2023 market. 

Georgia’s blackberry volume is down about 300,000 flats to 784,238 total in 2023.

Guatemala has shipped about a half-million flats of blackberries in the early weeks of each of the last two years.

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Mexican Winter Strawberry Shipments Increasing Each Season

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A leading export item for Mexico are strawberries which increased 9% in 2022, making it one of the most exported berries in the country. From 2017 to 2021, Mexico produced, on average, 655,000 tons of strawberries.

The primary producing regions in the country are Michoacán, Guanajuato, Baja California, Mexico and Baja California Sur with approximately 98% of all production volume. 

Founded in 2012, Naturberry is one of the leading companies in the Mexican strawberry industry. It is a subsidiary of the North American company Naturipe Berry Growers, part of the Naturipe Farms group.

In 10 years the operation grew from two workers to 18 workers, and from producing only 150,000 boxes to 3 million 4kg boxes of strawberries during the last season.

Naturberry also imports strawberries from California to Mexico during the winter months, between June and September.

The company imports around 500,000 boxes of strawberries during that time of the year. 

Of the 3 million boxes that Naturberry is exporting to the U.S., between 200 and 250 thousand contain organic strawberries.

The main markets are the United States and Canada, and their production in California complements Mexico’s off-season.

98 percent of the company’s exports go to the United States, 

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Over 1 Million Tons of Mexican Avocados Exported to the U.S. Last Year

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Mexico exported just over one million tons of avocado to the U.S. in 2020. With this, the combined annual commercial value totaled $3.1 billion dollars, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.

The federal agency reports the success of exported Mexican avocados has been based on its quality, safety measures and a larger area devoted to cultivation, with a total 248,456 hectares.

Along with this extensive growing area, the country’s sustainable practices and an efficient and effective use of water resources have allowed the industry to secure surplus volumes in order to set annual records in the international market.

Of total exports, 95% corresponded to fresh whole avocados, 4% to guacamole and 2% to pulp.

Data from the USDA shows from January to November last year, 82% of the total fresh avocado imported came from Mexico, with a value of $2.7 billion dollars.

According to data from the Servicio de Información Agroalimentaria y Pesquera (SIAP), in 2022 the sale of guacamole showed a year-on-year increase of 8%, going from 35,809 tons to 38,723 tons, while avocado pulp was marketed in quantities averaging 338 tons per week.

The origin of the fruit was exclusively from Michoacan fields certified by Mexican and U.S. health authorities.

However, in the second half of 2022, the USDA approved imports from Jalisco, expanding the scope of the Mexican industry in the U.S.

In the case of guacamole, which is a sauce that combines avocado pulp, garlic, onion, chile, tomato, lime juice and salt, 2,975 tons were destined for the U.S. market in the three weeks prior to the Super Bowl, while in the same period last year, pulp exports averaged 371 tons per week.

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Higher Exports of Mexican Mangoes are Expected this Year

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Between April and August, Mexican mango exports are at a peak, although the season starts in January and runs until September. 

Emex Mexico, a leading association of Mexican mango exporters expects a 5% to 8% increase in volume for the current season compared to 2022. 

New Exporters

At the end of last year, Colombia announced its first shipment of mangos to the U.S. market. Even though their volumes are low, they expect to increase exports in the seasons to come. 

Brazil, Ecuador, and Peru are the main South American exporters of mango to the U.S. and they recorded a 24% increase in export volumes last year. 

Colombia is currently exporting two varieties of mangoes, the sugar mango which is a small fruit marketed as “pocket-sized” which can be eaten with their skin, making it the ideal treat for kids or anytime snacking. This variety just recently entered the U.S. market. 

The second variety, which made its U.S. debut in December 2022, is the fresh mango, with producers expecting to export 1,000 tons of the variety this year, hoping to become a strong supplier to one of the top consumer countries for this fruit.

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Mexican Veggie Shipments Looking Much Better than Last Year

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Although there has been a slow start to the Culiacan production, volume is starting to kick in this month. Eggplant, cucumbers, colored bells and other vegetables will run strong before the traditional fade as the heat rolls in late April and May.

Sonoran vegetable production is underway in Guaymas for SunFed of Rio Rico, AZ but starting to wind down. The transition started a couple of weeks ago and SunFed fields to the north are going strong.

Quality of the product is reported good. The cold slowed growth up – particularly for the colored bells and eggplant – so harvest started a little later. Squash volume is good but even better with other vegetable and melon.

The production outlook for West Mexico is good. While unlikely, the greatest threat to production could be late-winter cold in Sonora. 

Culiacan farms in mid-February, had temperatures colder than normal. Abnormally cool weather has slowed some of the production out of the Sinaloa area. Also impacting the Mexican vegetable season this winter has been excessive rain particularly to the north in the state of Sonora.

Despite the wet and cooler weather in Mexico, this year’s production and market prices have been much better than 2022. A year ago, growers had significant labor problems that impacted production while farms were also battling dramatic year over year cost increases in 2022. This all made for a very difficult first quarter last year. The outlook for the first and second quarters of 2023 looks better than 2022. 

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How to Determine a Ripe Banana

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Depending on ripeness, bananas range in color from shades of almost hunter green flecked with whispers of yellow, all the way to deep canary yellow speckled with pinpricks of brown. Where a banana falls on this green-to-yellow range holds the key to where this banana will travel next on its circuitous journey from farm to produce aisle.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture publishes a numbered color index that conveys quick-glance standardization to help produce buyers make decisions. Depending on whether the case of bananas in question looks like a No. 2 or a No. 5 will determine the exact amount of time the bananas will spend in a ripening room, benefiting from specific temperature controls and piped-in ethylene gas that helps ripening progress smoothly.

After close monitoring in the ripening room confirms that the fruit is the perfect golden yellow color, the fruit is transported to the store. At the store, the bananas are tucked into merchandising displays. Only now can the produce team sit back and wait to discover if the bananas pass the final, most difficult desirability test: Will the ripe fruit catch a shopper’s eye?

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Salinas Spring Vegetable Shipments Expected to Have a Rocky Start

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Significant weather factors played havoc with the transition of Salinas Valley vegetables to the deserts of California and Arizona several months ago. It is now time for that transition from the south to Salinas and weather conditions up north are going to result in a rocky return.

Shipping gaps and disruptions are already occurring and will continue until at least early on many vegetable items. The problems started when rains prevented plantings from occurring on time. This will adversely affect the size, weight and condition of the product at harvesting.

Caution is urged when loading Salinas vegetable and make sure your receiver knows what quality, size, etc. of product they will be receiving.

There will be delayed shipments of broccoli and cauliflower in the Salinas Valley because of the excessive cold temperatures in February.

Florida vegetables will be an attractive alternative to Salinas for receivers until Florida starts winding down in April and May.

Celery volume will be limited this spring.

Oxnard received a lot of rain, delaying plantings during the early part of the farming season. However, there are Huron loadings of Iceberg lettuce, which will assist more consistent production of Iceberg through the transition period from the desert to the Salinas Valley. There are very few shipping from Huron this spring. Many will not be making the transition from the desert to Salinas or Santa Maria without shipping gaps.

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Mushrooms are Packed with Savory Flavor and Nutrients

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Packed with savory flavor and nutrients that many other types of produce don’t have, mushrooms are a tasty and healthy addition to all kinds of dishes and cuisines.

Dozens of varieties are available year-round because they’re grown indoors.

’Shrooms are the only source of vitamin D in the produce aisle. A single portabella mushroom has more potassium than a medium-sized banana, and fungi are a leading source of selenium, an antioxidant that strengthens the body’s immune system and can help prevent heart disease.

Packaged fungi outperformed bulk mushrooms in dollar and volume sales, according to IRI data for the four weeks ending Nov. 6, 2022, with prepackaged options representing almost 96% of pounds sold. Eight-ounce packages were, by far, the biggest sellers. Cut or prepared mushrooms made up half of pound sales, reflecting shoppers’ desire for convenience.


Fresh mushrooms have a lot going for them, from nutritional advantages to sustainability. The Mushroom Council highlights these fungi benefits: 

  • Families can stretch their grocery budgets by incorporating meaty-tasting mushrooms into recipes that call for ground beef — such as burgers and meatballs.  
  • Substituting mushrooms for meat can enhance weight loss and boost nutrition without leaving consumers hungry after a meal. 
  • Mushrooms rank high in sustainability. An environmental footprint assessment found that production of a pound of mushrooms requires less than 2 gallons of water, 1

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United Apple Has Strong Supplies of Domestic and Import Apples

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Lyndonville, NY – Last year’s domestic apple crop is a tale of two seasons as weather conditions in major growing regions dictated significantly different results for orchards in the Northwest and Northeast.

The extreme heat in late summer and overall challenging weather conditions in Washington caused a significant 20% drop in volume to a 100 million case crop. This shortfall created supply challenges for retailers who typically rely heavily on fruit from the country’s largest apple growing region.

On the other side of the country, the New York apple crop reported a strong 32+ million bushel volume, with good sizing, high color and excellent flavor.  Basically a rebound year from the previous harvest, the eastern region experienced near record volume with traditional varieties including Acey Mack, Empire, Fuji, Gala, Pink Lady and Red Delicious.

United Apple has a network of 59 local growers with their managed club varieties: EverCrisp, Ruby Frost and SnapDragon.

EverCrisp is now in its fifth season with product projected to be available through May. SnapDragon is in season nine and had volume until late March. Ruby Frost in its ninth season will have product into June.


With Washington’s crop being down, United Apple has reached out to its Southern hemisphere import partners to support requested volumes for slicers and processors to build consistent volumes for national programs.

Here is the schedule for United Apple’s import arrivals:

Gala – late March through mid-July;

Grannies – mid-April through mid-August;

Fuji – mid-May through late August;

Pink Lady – mid-May through early September.

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