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Lack of skilled labor means some U.S. ports face unloading backlogs of weeks or more

Christian Fernsby |
Shipping issues and weather conditions continue to impact arrivals and domestic harvest volumes.

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Topics: U.S.   

Lack of available skilled labor means some U.S. ports are facing unloading backlogs of weeks or more, with an increasing number of empty containers piling up. Wet fields, cold temperatures, wind, and other weather effects have affected maturity of certain commodities and led to decreased supplies, USDA reports.

Food service demand remains light, but additional restaurant openings are expected to improve uptake at the wholesale markets across the country.

The Peru asparagus harvest is expected to decrease seasonally, with fairly slow trading and lower prices this week.

Shipping delays at both Peru and U.S. ports remain a concern. Mexico asparagus movement is expected to increase seasonally, with projected availability until mid-April likely despite some production slowdowns due to wet weather and cooler temperatures.

Moderate trading at lower prices due to heavy supplies in US markets early in the week was followed by lighter demand at higher prices by the end of the week after harvests were temporarily limited by rain.

Chilean blueberry arrivals are expected to decrease to both east and west coast ports. Trading remains fairly active with prices slightly higher to higher. Mexican blueberry movement is expected to remain about the same with active trading. Prices were slightly higher this week on pints and unchanged on other packs while quality continues to be variable.

Bell peppers from Mexico crossing through Nogales, Arizona are expected to remain about the same with moderate demand. Trading is moderate at much lower prices, as already heavy supplies continue to increase. Crossing volumes of green Bell peppers from Mexico through Texas are in too few hands to establish a market and reporting has ended for the season.

Central and south Florida supplies are expected to slightly increase, but this may change due to cooler weather which is expected to curtail early morning harvests in coming days. Moderate to fairly good demand kept prices mostly steady, with some sizes slightly higher or lower.

Some shippers are finishing the fall crop and will have a production gap until early March. The effects of a slight shortage of truck availability continue to be felt on prices and movement out of the region.

Movement of Mexican strawberries crossing through both Texas and the Otay Mesa, California is expected to remain about the same with moderate trading and prices generally unchanged on both.

Some harvests were curtailed by rain and wet fields. Movement out of the Oxnard district, California is expected about the same with fairly active trading and prices generally unchanged as growers continue to assess damages from last week’s windstorm. For both Mexican and California strawberries, most shipments are for prior bookings or previous commitments and quality and condition remain variable.

Florida strawberry movement was expected to slightly increase as warmer weather has increased current supplies, but cooler weather may be returning the next few days to again reduce harvests.

Demand remains very good at lower prices, at times exceeding availability. Current supplies are still going to cover previous commitments.

Mexican tomato supplies remain very light with slow to moderate trading. Movement on tomatoes crossing through Texas is expected to remain about the same, while crossings through Nogales should continue to increase seasonally. Spot market prices from both districts continue to decrease, with smaller tomatoes higher in price than larger.

Movement of Florida tomatoes is expected to decrease slightly due to maturity delays from earlier cold weather, with more expected in the next few days. Some growers are anticipating a delay of around 10 days. Demand is fairly light and prices slightly lower. Truck availability remains an issue, with shortages expected until after Valentine’s Day.


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