Church Brothers Farms Comments on Lettuce Market Conditions
SALINAS, CA - Lettuce is one category that remains a staple on at-home and restaurant menus, no matter what the market looks like. As Church Brothers Farms continues to bring its high-quality supplies to market, I recently had the opportunity to discuss yield, demand, and pricing with Jason Lathos, Manager of Commodities.
“The weather has been very cool and mild. This has not hurt lettuce, if anything it has helped,” he told me. “With no heat spikes or super cold temperatures/ice since we started the Salinas growing season, we have seen great quality and yields 10 percent above normal.”
Jason went on to explain that fields that have not been harvested were pushed into the next week, which has kept supplies at normal-to-above averages. He mentioned that it is usually not as easy to push these fields when the growing region experiences normal summertime heat.
Having seen such a successful season so far, it is no wonder that Church Brothers’ buy-side partners continue to utilize the supplier’s lettuce in their lineups despite challenges in the market.
“Usually May is known as lettuce month, but demand has not been as high this year due to the pandemic. With the foodservice industry still stalled by regulations and capacity caps/restrictions, the volume of POs is below usual,” Jason continued. “Limited restaurant menus that have been shrunk due to the lack of servers and cooks has also contributed to this.”
With rising freight rates, truck shortages, and higher prices on gas, water, lumber, and plastics, the costs across the supply chain have also continued to increase.
“Growing lettuce is a formula and the costs impact us as well as the market,” Jason said. “We’ve experienced fluctuating prices on rent, seeds, labor, chemical inputs/fertilizers, packaging, pallets, fuel, new California labor laws, and more, but the pressure to get product to market remains. That being said, buyers will likely see higher fixed costs on lettuce and many other crops this summer that we will need to pass on to the consumer.”
As the market continues to shift, we at ANUK will be sure to keep you in the know.