Apr 6, 2023
Topsy-turvy tomato season to see more consistency in spring

While organic tomato supplies have been a bit inconsistent this winter, three varieties seem to be in a good supply heading deeper into spring.

Organic beefsteak, on-the-vine and grape tomatoes offer promotional opportunities, according to Organic Produce Network.

Joe Eisinger, who handles organics for Nathel & Nathel on the Hunts Point Terminal Market in New York City, told OPN he is currently experiencing steady supply of organic beefsteak and TOVs (tomatoes on the vine) from Canadian greenhouse sources, though Florida “is a little snug on grape tomatoes.”

While organic tomato supplies have been a bit inconsistent this winter, beefsteak, on-the-vine and grape tomatoes offer promotional opportunities, according to Organic Produce Network. Photo: File

Michael DuPuis, who handles quality assurance and public relations for Divine Flavor from its Nogales, Arizona, headquarters, said the company concentrates its organic tomato efforts on its Magnifico-branded grape tomato. There is a good supply of organic grape tomatoes in the marketplace from Mexico, leading to some market saturation, he said.

DuPuis said the grower-shipper is currently producing Sweetelle variety organic grape tomatoes from three different high-tech greenhouse operations in Mexico. “Our goal is to provide programs of certified Fair Trade fruit all year long to our customers,” he said.

Alex Leon of Bernardi & Associates, also in Nogales, said this year has been “a totally different season than what is typical. The supply situation comes and goes. It has not been consistent at all. We will have 2-3 weeks of good supplies and then a period of gaps.”

Cold weather has stunted plant growth and created gaps, said Leon, who is anticipating new supply from Baja California as organic supplies from the Culiacan Valley in Sinaloa wind down. He is expecting to rely on that region as heavy rain and flooding has delayed tomato production in central California.

OPN’s Week 14 report predicted promotable opportunities on organic asparagus through the rest of April, with outstanding quality. Organic green beans from Mexico have experienced a boost in volume and also boast outstanding quality, while organic Brussels sprouts remain promotable with excellent supply and affordable pricing.

East Coast organic lettuce production is limited as the season shifts from Florida into Georgia, while California supplies are expected to be down in April because of heavy rain and flooding. Both supply and quality for romaine hearts and iceberg lettuce are expected to suffer throughout April, with organic salad producers canceling or discouraging promotional activity for the month.

Organic mandarins continue to be in good supply, with several varieties available from California. The supply of organic lemons is expected to increase in coming weeks, while organic grapefruit supplies are lighter because of heavy rain. Organic limes from Mexico are seeing prices rise because of light harvest and export volumes.

Organic celery is continuing to be harvest in California’s Imperial Valley, but the season is winding down this month. Supply is projected to tighten as production shifts to northern growing regions affected by rain.

Organic mini seedless watermelon spring harvests will supply volume by mid-April, though harvests won’t begin in Mexico until later in the month.

Organic broccoli volume and prices remain steady but will begin to decrease as suppliers shift California growing operations north. Difficult marketing conditions are expected throughout May, while organic cauliflower from the state is facing the same challenges.

Organic eggplant and zucchini from Punta Gorda, Florida, are ramping up production with top quality and improved pricing. Supply of organic cucumbers and yellow squash from Mexico is steady into April.

Organic berry production is being hampered by flooding in California and rain in Baja, Mexico as spring demand climbs. Organic strawberries will be limited after rain in Baja delayed all harvests, while organic raspberry production from the region was also slowed. Organic blueberries will remain expensive in early April as domestic harvests have not yet begun, while organic blackberry prices remain high with limited availability out of Mexico.

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