Posts Tagged “vegetable shipments”

What is Behind These Soaring Freight Rates on Fresh Produce Hauls

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TAAAAhere’s a lot of talk about soaring truck rates, including produce, and how long these levels will last, considering January is typically one of the poorest months for decent rates. Nobody really knows, so it is going to be very interesting once spring produce volume starts kicking in with March.

In January, some truck rates exceeded $10,000 from the Imperial Valley of California to New York City.  This compares to a $6,000 to $6,200 rate in January 2017. Two years ago, the rates were $5,800 to $6,000 to New York.

Florida has a similar situation where produce rates from central and south Florida to Baltimore were up 30 percent a week ago compared with the previous week, grossing $2,700 to$2,900.  The same time a year ago those rates were $1,900 to $2,200, and $2,100 to $2,200 two years ago.

While Florida volume is seasonally low compared to what it will be in April and May, product is moving fast partly because the Sunshine State has a significant freight advantage over Mexican vegetable shipments to many eastern seaboard markets.

In the Red River Valley of North Dakota and Minnesota a bumper red potato crop is 46 percent larger than a year ago.  Yet some observers believe potato shipments could be up to 20 percent more if the trucks were available.

Potato rates from Grand Forks, MN are $3 per hundred weight (cwt) higher than last year to South Florida, putting the gross freight rate at $6000. Rates to Boston from the valley are up $2 per cwt. and $2.50 to Chicago.

Significant credit has to be given President Trump cutting regulations, as well as the recent tax bill which is helping spur the economy.  Business is booming for many. This has increased demands for transportation services, plus there is a scarcity of qualified drivers, leaving many shippers scrambling to ship sold product.  There also are the adverse consequences of the electronic logging device mandate, making it difficult if not impossible to fudge on hours of service.

Many see a need for changes in hours of service.  For example, time spent waiting at loading docks counts against operating hours.  Produce is a supply and demand business and demand simply is outstripping the supply of available drivers.

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Shipping Updates: CA Produce Loads on the Decline; FL, Mexico Tomato Shipments Struggle

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DSCN0449There’s probably no single California produce item having more truck loads per week than table grapes, although this should be changing soon as volume is headed towards a season ending slide.  Still, San Joaquin Valley shippers loaded about 975 truck loads last week.  The first Chilean grapes to arrive at Philadelphia by boat are expected the week of December 18th.

In the Southern San Joaquin Valley in the Bakersfield area, there is pretty steady movement of carrots averaging around 375 truck loads weekly.

As the seasonal shift of vegetable shipments is nearly completed from the Salinas Valley, light volume of items ranging from broccoli to cauliflower has started from Central and Western Arizona.  Heavier volume already is underway, particularly from the Yuma area with lettuce.  The combination of head lettuce, as well as romaine and leaf lettuce totaled nearly 2500 truck loads last week and volume is still increasing.

Low Tomato Shipments

Thanks to Hurricane Irma last September, Florida tomato shipments this season are down 54 percent compared to the same time a year ago.  Florida, as of December 9th has shipped 3.44 million cartons, down 54 percent from 7.4 million cartons in 2106.   For example, Florida tomato shipments the week of December. 3-9 totaled 500,000 cartons, down over 65 percent compared with 1.492 million cartons the same week last year.

The USDA reports total supply of domestic and imported tomatoes the week of Dec. 3-9 was 1.9 million cartons, down 25 percent from 2.56 million cartons the same week a year ago.

Tomato prices at shipping point had hit $35 in mid-December resulting in high prices at retail stores and resulting in fewer sales as consumers balked at the high prices.  The f.o.b. (shipping point) price for central and south Florida tomatoes on Dec. 12 was $37.95 per carton for some mature green tomatoes, four times higher than the $8.95 per carton the same time a year ago.

Cold weather in central and eastern parts of the country limited some Mexican tomato shipments coming through south Texas in early December.  For imports coming in through Nogales, tomato shipments from Sinaloa, Mexico should experience significant volume increases in January.

Florida may not have normal tomato shipments until mid-January.

 

 

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What to Look for with Produce Shipments for the Fourth of July

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DSCN9472Wanting to spend the Fourth of July with family and friends instead of on the road?  Here are some of the better opportunities for produce shipments leading up to the celebration of our nation’s 241st celebration of independence.

Avocado Shipments

Avocado loadings will be good, but certainly not great.  When you take Mexico pretty out of the mix, because this time of year shipments are at a seasonal low, you are pretty much left with Southern California, as well as imports from Peru arriving at various ports.  Still there will be 40 to 45 million pounds of avocado across the U.S. being shipped weekly.  We’ll also mention Southern Florida avocado shipments.  Florida’s biggest avocado shipper, Brooks Tropical of Homestead will be having its heaviest loadings in two years.

Blueberry Shipments

New Jersey blueberries will be in peak season, mostly from the Southern part of the state.

If you loaded British Columbia blueberries last season in time for Fourth of July activities that won’t happen this year.  BC  blues are a month later, which is more normal, and shipments won’t get underway until the first week of July.  The region should ship about 170 million pounds this season, lasting into mid September.

Strawberry Shipments

On the West Coast, Mother Nature has been kind to strawberries from the Watsonville area.  Heavy shipments are now occurring and will remain that way through mid July.  There also will be much lighter loadings of raspberries, blueberries and blackberries, which will start hitting stride around the Fourth of July.

Salinas Valley berries and vegetables – grossing abut $7900 to New York City.

Watermelon Shipments

Early season watermelons from Texas have probably been the best quality in a few years and that hopefully will continue with maturing fruit coming on in Oklahoma…..Meanwhile, Northern Florida and Georgia are looking to have a decent amount of shipments, although volume has been heavier in some other years.

Central Florida watermelons – grossing about $2800 to New York City.

Vegetable Shipments

Decent supplies of vegetables are coming out of Southern Georgia.  For example, the Moultrie area is loading items ranging from sweet corn to squash, cabbage and green beans……North Carolina vegetable shipments are ranging from bell peppers, hot peppers and eggplant….Moving to California, the Gilroy area has some of the state’s largest shipments of sweet corn…..The roller coast ride for Salinas Valley head lettuce has continued since last spring.  Shipments should be a little more steady now, with volume better than last year time, but still not heavy.

Southern Georgia vegetable shipments – grossing about $2000 to New York City.

 

 

 

 

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Georgia Produce Shipping Update; Port Manatee is Looking to Expand Business

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DSCN1324+1There’s been some adjustments in the shipping forecast for some Georgia produce shipments since a March freeze.  Also, Port Manatee in Florida is looking to expand business with South America.

An update on Georgia produce shipments has been made after the USDA declare nearly two dozen counties a disaster as a result of a March freeze.

Georgia blueberry shipments will be 75 percent less this season.  Loading are taking place and will continue through June.  Georgia had originally estimated a total of 80 million pounds for the fresh and processed markets.   2016 blueberry shipments totaled a little over 70 million pounds, with about 45 million pounds going to the fresh market.  Georgia’s record year of blueberry production was 96 million pounds total volume in 2014, 58 million pounds of which went to the fresh market.

Peaches

Georgia peach shipments are starting any day now.  While the original estimate for losses from the freeze were in the 40 to 50 percent range, the losses have now improved.  Recently some growers was talking peach shipments should be down about 25 to 35 percent.  Last year, Georgia shipped 43,000 tons of peaches.

Vidalia Onions

There is good supply, quality and steady shipments of Vidalia onions occurring, averaging about 500 truck loads per week. Vidalia onions were the only Georgia produce crop not affected by that March freeze.

Vidalia onions – grossing about $2000 to Chicago.

Vegetable shipments

Georgia green bean shipments have been underway since the first week of May and should continue through mid-July.  Sweet corn is just getting underway, but good volume won’t occur until  June and continuing through July Fourth.  Georgia squash and zucchini loadings started a couple weeks early this season and will run through June.

Port Manatee

Port Manatee, Palmetto, Fla., is planning to expand commercial ties with Colombia and Chile.

“We see significant opportunity for growing trade between our nation and Port Manatee,” Juan C. Barrera, general deputy director for the United States of ProColombia USA, said in a news release. “Both import and export opportunities exist for businesses in Manatee County and beyond, and we look forward to exploring these mutually beneficial possibilities,”

“We are enthused about fortifying the business relationship between Manatee County interests, including our port, and our counterparts in Colombia and are committed to growing such ties,” Carlos Buqueras, executive director of Port Manatee, said in the release.

“We have the largest dock side refrigerated facility in Florida,” Buqueras said. “We have such capacity, it’s a shame not to utilize it.”

A deal with Chile is still in negotiations, Buqueras said.

“It’ll start with test shipments,” he said. “That will give us the opportunity to make corrections or enhance speed to market,”

Produce currently represents 30% of Port Manatee’s import business, according to Buqueras. He said it is too early in negotiations to say how much produce imports would increase because of expanded ties.

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California Strawberry Shipments are Strong; Michigan Freeze Has Asparagus Down, but Not Out

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Asparagus freezeHeavy California strawberry shipments should continue for the foreseeable future.  Meanwhile, Michigan asparagus was clobbered by a hard freeze, but good volume is returning soon.

While fresh strawberry shipments from Oxnard are over with only berries for processing being picked, fresh loadings have moved northward to  Santa Maria and Watsonville. A significant increase in volume took place last week and will the trend will continue.  Watsonville will experience its heaviest strawberry shipments the last week of May through the first week of June.  Santa Maria strawberry shipments are currently peaking.

Additionally, raspberry loadings are now coming out of Watsonville and are expected to have significant volume increases during the next weeks, which will continue through Summer and into the Fall.

Grower report that the four year drought in California resulted in a build up of salt in the soil, but this season’s heavy rains leeched most of that salt out of the ground.  This is making for prime growing conditions, and crop quality.

California strawberry shipments have been heavy since right after Easter with good loading opportunities expected for upcoming holidays in the weeks ahead from the Northern districts.

Santa Maria strawberriy and vegetable shipments – grossing about $4300 to Chicago.

Salinas Valley strawberry and vegetable shipments – grossing about $6600 to New York City.

Michigan Asparagus Shipments

Asparagus is one of the most unusual produce crops I am familiar with.  I was once visiting an asparagus farm in California and the owner told me that under excellent conditions the vegetable grew so fast at night you could literally hear it growing.  It can grow as much as four to six inches a day!

I was reminded of this with the May 8th hard freeze in Michigan that severely hit the asparagus crop (see photo).  Despite temperatures plunging to 23 degrees F. for two to three hours, resulting in  a loss of an estimated 5 to 8 percent of the total crop, the season is far from lost.  Decent volume will be returning this week, with peak volume shipments out of Michigan coming next week.

Typically, the heaviest asparagus shipments occur early in the season.  That won’t happen in Michigan this year.  Even though  all the asparagus that was above ground froze, it will quickly rebound.

Michigan apple shipments – grossing about $2700 to Atlanta.

 

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Santa Maria Vegetable Loadings to Have Shipping Gaps

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DSCN9015While the Salinas Valley to the north and Ventura County to the south often get more attention when it comes to produce shipments, the Santa Maria area also has significant volume.  But like Salinas, Santa Maria is having shipping issues.

By late March, the incessant rain that pounded the Santa Maria region and most of California this winter seemed to be subsiding, but the effects of the storms will be felt for some time.

In similar fashion to the Salinas Valley, there are going to be shipping gaps this year.  The gaps in availability of certain vegetables will continue until the middle of May.

Around 40 different vegetable items, Similar to Salinas, are grown in Santa Maria including organic and conventional iceberg lettuce, cauliflower, broccoli, celery, leaf lettuce, spinach, cilantro, parsley, kale, green onions and Brussels sprouts.

Quality problems have hit cauliflower and broccoli due to excessive rains.  While drier weather has occurred recently, you should still use caution when loading looking for possible quality issues.

Santa Maria actually stretches about 40 miles from Lompoc in the south to Oceano in the north. Most of the Santa Maria district is located in northern Santa Barbara County with the city and valley of Santa Maria being its epicenter.  The most northern reaches of the district is found in San Luis Obispo County.  The city of Santa Maria is found about 170 miles north of Los Angeles and 270 miles south of San Francisco.  Much closer is Santa Barbara — 60 miles to the south — and San Luis Obispo — 30 miles to the north.  The Pacific Ocean is about 15 miles west of Santa Maria.  Several major grower-shippers are located in Guadalupe, which also is located between the Pacific Ocean and Santa Maria.

Santa Barbara County’s top 10 crops are strawberries, broccoli, wine grapes, cut flowers, nursery products, head lettuce, cauliflower, raspberries, avocados and celery.  In 2015, each of these crops accounted for more than $43 million in sales led by strawberries at $438 million, which far outpaces the second place finisher, which is broccoli at $164 million. Santa Maria Valley strawberry acreage has seen a big increase in the past decade.

Vegetable shipments remain an important part of agriculture representing over 30 percent of revenues at about $540 million in 2015.  Staple vegetable crops, including broccoli and lettuce, are the mainstays, but the Santa Maria area growers produce virtually every vegetable shipped from specialty baby vegetables to kale to Swiss chard to brussels sprouts.

Santa Maria, Ventura County and Salinas vegetables – all grossing about $4800 to Atlanta.

 

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Completion of Expansion for Pioneer Growers Facility is Announced in Florida

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by Pioneer Growers

DSCN8998Belle Glade, FL – Pioneer Growers has announced the near completion of their new facility expansion that includes expanded cold storage and processing facilities at their Belle Glade, FL location.

The facility became operational recently, and this is the third and final phase of a mid-term expansion plan that includes 64,000 additional square feet of space for processing, storage, and office space. The Florida facility now includes 13 docks and 700 new pallet spaces to aid in cooling incoming product and staging outgoing shipments.

Vice President and General Manager Gene Duff remarked, “As one of the largest fresh sweet corn growers in the U.S. it’s important that we continue to expand and improve our facilities to meet not only growing demand, but to maintain production efficiencies that continue to improve our product handling and quality.”

Construction of the phase three project began in August of 2016 and was part of a 5-year plan that included previous expansions of processing, receiving and packing areas and features Thermomass tilt wall  construction.

Pioneer is currently shipping sweet corn, cabbage and radishes along with green beans which are processed in the new Phase 3 expansion.

In closing Duff remarked, “Pioneer Growers has always been an industry leader and our growers and employees are proud and excited to work in the most modern facility in the Glades where we produce and ship some of the freshest, best quality sweet corn and vegetables grown anywhere in the U.S.”

Pioneer Growers is a grower owned marketing cooperative specializing in fresh sweet corn and mixed vegetables including green beans, radishes, and cabbage.  Today, Pioneer is a leader in the sweet corn industry offering year-round availability with more than 13,000 acres across Florida, Georgia and the Northeast with a focus on premium quality driven by their commitment to super sweet varieties packed in the Pioneer and Green Giant Fresh brands.

Florida tomato shipments and vegetable shipments – grossing about $2500 to New York City.

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California Spring Produce Shipments will be Erratic for Weeks

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DSCN8983As the month of March progresses, produce shippers will be transitioning to the coastal valleys of California as well as the Huron district on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley.  However, for now primary vegetables shipments continue from the desert regions of California and Arizona.  But shipping gapes in the weeks ahead are certain.

Loadings for some early season cauliflower and broccoli should start from the Salinas Valley in mid-March.  Meanwhile desert lettuce shipments will shift to Huron (San Joaquin Valley) by the end of March.  However it be early April before lettuce and leaf items are shipped from Salinas.  This is when the shipping gaps will start and the issues will continue at least until May.

A couple of hours drive to the south a very similar scenario is seen in Santa Maria.  The broccoli and cauliflower currently being harvested has quality issues due to relentless recent rains.

Quality is expected to gradually improve along with volume throughout March, but yields and loadings will be down along with supply gaps.

Vegetable shipments from the California and Arizona deserts should finish during the third week of  March.

In Southern California, rains hit strawberry fields and volume is slowly improving, but still struggling to get back to normal.  Decent strawberry shipments are expected by the third week of March from Ventura County.  While Southern California strawberries are working to regain good volume, shipments from Florida and Mexico are starting to decline.  Both those areas of origin are well above their shipping levels compared to the same time in 2016.

Florida and Mexico had a combined volume of about 36 million cartons compared to about half that in late February 2016.  For the past two years, those two production areas have combined to ship around 50 million trays to U.S. markets.

In late February, California had shipped just 3 million crates compared to the close to 200 million it typically ships in a calendar year.

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California Desert Vegetable Loads are Increasing

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dscn8587While California desert shipments may not be exactly enormous, vegetable loadings are now taking place out of California’s Coachella Valley and the nearby Imperial Valley.

Green bean and bell pepper loadings have been increasing lately as the California winter desert vegetable shipments gear up.  Grower-shippers in the state’s Coachella and Imperial valleys expect adequate volume with mixed vegetables and leafy greens.
Cauliflower shipments will be on a bit of a roller coaster ride bringing back memories of volatility of that crop last summer when it was coming out of Salinas.
Coachella’s Prime Time International was cranking up its green bean loadings prior to Thanksgiving, while its green pepper shipments got started in October.  Green peppers are now being joined by red peppers.  Green bell pepper production in the California desert was already well underway as November began, but red bells were just kicking off November 1st.
In the Imperial Valley, Coastline Family Farms at Brawley has just started harvest of mixed vegetables, with head lettuce kicking off around December 5th.  Starting last week was Pacific International Marketing with conventional spinach in Brawley and El Centro, CA, with organic lettuce and conventional broccoli just now getting underway.
Desert artichoke loadings will begin in late November from Ocean Mist Farms, which is headquartered in Castroville, CA.  Shipments should continue into the second week of March.  The shipper now grows over 30 vegetables in the desert and has doubled its brussels sprouts acreage.  Ocean Mist also for the first time will ship Coachella Valley-grown head lettuce to supplement  its production in Yuma, AZ.  The company started shipping romaine hearts, leafy greens and broccoli in mid November, with cauliflower getting underway right after Thanksgiving.
California’s Imperial Valley and nearby Yuma, AZ – shipments of head, romaine and leaf lettuce, as well as broccoli, cantaloupe and honeydew – grossing about $4900 to Atlanta.

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Lettuce Loads Moving to Huron; Idaho Potato Update

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dscn8447Salinas Valley lettuce shipments are on the decline and the seasonal transition to the San Joaquin Valley is underway.  Also, here is an update on potato shipments out of the nation’s leading state – Idaho.

Harvest of iceberg lettuce from the Westside district in the San Joaquin Valley in the Huron, CA area got underway about 10 days ago and volume shipments are increasing.

The seasonal transition of lettuce from California’s Salinas Valley to Huron and to desert growing regions of Arizona (Yuma) and California (Imperial Valley) are underway.   Although some minor insect problems and wind damage have occurred, other all quality of the iceberg is reported to be good.

Salinas Valley fruit and vegetable shipments – grossing about $4300 to Chicago.

San Joaquin Valley vegetable shipments – grossing about $5100 to Atlanta.

Idaho Potato Shipments

Idaho potato acreage is reported to be very similar compared with a year ago, and Idaho potato growers and shippers are looking at good quality crop with a good range of sizes for the 2016-17 shipping season. Yields are reported to be fairly good.

About 325,000 acres of Idaho potatoes were planted this year, compared with 323,000 acres planted a year ago.  The state’s potato crop accounts for about 33 percent of all U.S. potato volume.

According to the USDA  Idaho’s 2015-16 crop was being shipped throughout the season, with top shipment months occurring in September (12 percent of annual volume), October (12 percent), April (11 percent), March (9 percent) and May (9 percent). The comparatively lower volume months were July (6 percent) and August (6 percent).

For the state’s acreage in the 2014-15 season, Russet Burbank potatoes stood at 50.4 percent of the shipments, down from 52.5 percent in 2013-14.  Russet Norkotah volume accounted for 17 percent of the acreage, down from 20.1 percent in 2013-14 shipping season.  Ranger Russet rose from 14.2 percent in the 2013-14 season to 15.5 percent in the  2014-15 shipping season.

Idaho potato shipments from the Idaho Falls area – grossing about $3000 to Chicago; $5000 to New York City.

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