Supplies Lighter than Demand For California Leafy Greens; Church Brothers Farms' Jason Lathos Discusses
- by Melissa De Leon Chavez
SALINAS, CA - It looks to be something of a tight market for leafy vegetables as Mother Nature gives California a last summer push before the fall months kick in. Church Brothers Farms’ Manager of Commodities, Jason Lathos, took the time to tell me that a Labor Day weekend in the triple digits rolled harvest back a day, as growers continue working to get as much yield as possible to meet a slightly higher demand.
“Harvest was cut short leading up to Labor Day, as we have a policy not to work past 90 degrees for the safety of our workers,” Jason explains. “I think, with this weather, everyone came in with lower inventories, which will always affect the market."
The heat has stuck around for quite a while, Jason cautions, with even the low temperatures in the evening staying fairly warm. As a result, he predicts a lighter-than-normal supply, primarily for leafy greens, broccoli, and possibly cauliflower.
The company’s latest field report also noted lighter romaine weights of around 34-36 lbs, with crews being set up early to avoid shortages amidst the heat. Demand, however, is set to exceed supply as we come off the holiday and into the school year.
“We just got through the holiday, but on the flip side, all the schools are starting up, so I think you’ll see a natural uptick in business. If you had small increases, you will likely see another. Local promotions will also start to wind down, pushing up demand in the west,” Jason explains.
At the same time, pickers will be slowing down in the fields as they harvest more carefully, inspecting for any negative impacts from the heat. This, too, affects yield for a combined effect of tighter supplies to meet spiked demand.
Overall, Jason says it is still a little too early to tell the overall outcome for the market in the coming days.
“It won’t be at normal levels,” Jason comments. “It will be a little bit of a roller coaster for the next ten to fourteen days and we’ll just have to ride it out and see.”
Since much of the produce industry is a roller coaster of outside influences, keep checking in with AndNowUKnow for all the latest.