Early winter could see slim strawberry supplies and high prices

From Fresh Plaza | 7 October 2022

Overview of strawberries from California in the U.S. market, complemented by charts from Agronometrics. Original published on October 4, 2022. 

Strawberries may very well be in tight supply later this year. Right now as California volumes of strawberries are winding down from peak summer volumes, Central Mexico is in its early stages of strawberry production.

“Mexico is starting to send a few pallets here and there but not a lot. Mexico’s crops suffered from a bit of hail which affected berries in some of the regions. Plus there was extra rain. But overall production seems to be normal with just a little delay,” says Alfredo Ruiz of Naturalar Fresh Inc., who carries the Millie’s Berries brand of berries in one and two lb. conventional packs and one lb. organic packs. Last year, shipments of strawberries began from the region a bit earlier, around week 35. Strawberries from Central Mexico ship from October-November through to February-March generally.

Pricing on Central Mexican strawberries is also pushing higher currently with them in the low to mid $20s. “Those are expensive prices for strawberries,” says Ruiz.

strawberry prices by his 1

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

Florida’s strawberry production?

Looking ahead though, what remains a question mark is how December-January production looks out of a key winter strawberry supply region–Florida–given Hurricane Ian’s impact on the state. “If the winds from Hurricane Ian are very hard, it can just take away the plastic that is on the ground for strawberries. However not a lot of plants have been planted in the ground yet,” says Ruiz. “But with a lot of water, that’s not going to help their season.”

In turn, that means the U.S. may rely more heavily on that Central Mexican region for strawberries later this year. “I just don’t see Florida shipping significant volume in early January since shipments will more than likely be delayed. Winter is going to be rough for strawberries–supplies will be short and prices high,” he says, noting that early last winter was tough as well on strawberry supplies given farms were delayed due to the rain.

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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