Feb 6, 2023
Suppliers hoping for sales boost from February traditions

While cold temperatures are putting the squeeze on some organic vegetables, suppliers are optimistic about the effect of two February traditions: the Super Bowl and Valentine’s Day.

Cold temperatures in the winter production areas of Mexico and the U.S. Southwest have limited some supplies, but market demand remains soft overall, according to a Feb. 2 report from Organic Produce Network.

An OPN report found that suppliers have noticed an increase in market prices at the start of February for bell peppers and beets. Image: Provided

Suppliers have noticed an increase in market prices at the start of February for bell peppers and beets while also seeing a steep drop in celery prices.

Suppliers are hoping for warmer weather in mid-February, along with boosts from the Super Bowl on Feb. 12 and Valentine’s Day on Feb. 14.

Bell peppers make up about 70% of the sales of IPR Fresh in Nogales, Arizona. Company president Jose Luis Obregon said that while the first peppers harvested this winter produced good supply, the past two weeks have seen delays because of cold weather in Mexico’s Culiacan Valley. Obregon noted that all peppers, including conventional and organic, are in short supply with a small uptick in price and predicted the shortages would last for a couple more weeks.

Robert Schueller, director of public relations at Melissa’s Produce in Los Angeles, said organic bell peppers are the company’s top organic item.

“There were some weather-related issues over the last several weeks that have limited supplies from Mexico,” Schueller said. “The full effect is happening right now. Sometime next week, we should be in full distribution again.”

Organic red bell peppers are typically a popular item around Valentine’s Day, said Schueller, who also expects a positive sales effect from Super Bowl watch parties.

Michael Boskovich of Boskovich Farms in Oxnard, California, said cold weather has put a damper on organic vegetable supplies, though it hasn’t caused noticeable price increases. He said organic beets are showing some reaction, with market prices in the $20 range, and he expects more price pressure as the supply gap increases.

Darrell Beyer of Bluebird Mountain Organics in Reno, Nevada, agreed that organic beets have a solid market in the $20s for a 12-count box but said the market is not moving as much as might be expected with declining supplies.

Beyer also noted that organic celery prices fell from $50 a carton to $20 in a matter of days.


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