Commodity pricing volatility affects 83 percent of produce stakeholders

From Fresh Plaza | 17 October 2023

Overview of grapes from California in the U.S. market, complemented by charts from Agronometrics. Original published on October 16, 2023.

ProducePay released findings of a survey that explored business stability for produce stakeholders, including growers, packers, distributors, integrated suppliers and end buyers in the United States and Latin America. As the International Fresh Produce Association’s (IFPA) annual Global Produce and Floral Show kicks off this week, these results spotlight the many challenges that demonstrate an urgent need to improve predictability.

With growers, producers and packers comprising a majority of survey respondents (55 percent), the data underscores how increasing volatility and unpredictability limit the fresh produce sector as a vital industry.

grape prices by history 2

Source: USDA Market News via Agronometrics.
(Agronometrics users can view this chart with live updates here)

Highlights include:

  • Commodity pricing volatility: Pricing volatility affects the greatest proportion of respondents (83 percent).
  • Business stability: A majority of growers (52 percent), and 30 percent of respondents overall, rated the stability of their current business climate less positive (5 or lower, on a scale of 1-10), compared to last year.
  • Business impact: More than half of respondents rated the following concerns as “extremely significant” in impacting their business negatively: cost of inputs (55 percent), ability to grow and deliver quality produce (53 percent), commodity pricing volatility (52 percent), weather unpredictability (52 percent) and reaching fair pricing terms (50 percent).
  • Worsening challenges: These issues were rated worse this year compared to last year: weather unpredictability (54 percent), cost of inputs (53 percent), cost or access to labor (46 percent), commodity pricing volatility (44 percent) and cost or access to capital (40 percent).

“Given the importance of this industry, it’s essential we support the entire vertical – from grower to retailer – by eliminating the volatility and unpredictability that limits economic growth and investments in sustainable practices, and that results in inefficient forms of waste throughout the supply chain,” said Patrick McCullough, ProducePay CEO.

ProducePay’s vision has started to demonstrate impact at scale. Earlier this year, the company collaborated with Four Star Fruit to launch a direct-to-retail program that enables a stable supply of high-quality produce to consumers while driving financial sustainability and fostering investments in sustainable agricultural practices. When Hurricane Hillary damaged nearly 25 million boxes of California table grapes, Four Star Fruit and ProducePay took proactive steps to secure table grape supplies from Peru and Chile to bridge the supply gap.

The News in Charts is a collection of stories from the industry complemented by charts from Agronometrics to help better tell their story.

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