Why Are Veg Prices Going Up?
This year saw Central and Northern California veg growing regions end production early. As production transitioned down to the California desert the weather turned unusually cold, slowing down crop growth. We are seeing frosts every morning, typical of what you would normally see in January. The workers need to wait until 10 or 11am for the frost to thaw before they can start harvesting. If the shorter harvest days and cold weather weren’t enough, the desert and Yuma regions also experienced floods from the early rains. This has led to short supply on items like carrots, lettuce, broccoli etc.
The important thing to remember is that most of the U.S. is pulling produce from the same area that we do at this point in the season. Demand is great – supply isn’t. To see one of the last true examples of a supply and demand economic model look no further than the fruit and veg industry. There are no price supports, no subsidies and you can charge as little as you want or as much as you want. It either sells or it doesn’t so to speak. Organics is a smaller industry so prices are even more reactive in a time like this. We can expect to see high prices for at least 2-3 more weeks on all cool season wet veg.
Price and quality do not track side by side. Often higher prices reflect difficult growing conditions and vegetables have more cosmetic challenges than we are used to. Most vegetables are comprised mainly of water and water expands when it freezes causing various types of defects. Epidermal peel occurs when the outer layer of the leaf freezes, partially dies and then begins to peel. The leaf will have a translucent look. Tip burn happens when the leaf cells break down from extreme temperature causing the outer edges of the leaves to turn black. Cracking can be seen along the stem or ribs and slight frost damage is noticeable on outside leaves. Blistering causing the epidermis on the outside leaves to begin to fall apart.
We will continue to post updates as we start seeing supplies improve and prices stabilizing.