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Trendspotting: Watermelon prices on the rise

By
Craig Levitt

The full-fledged watermelon season is right around the corner, and in preparation watermelon prices are on the rise, up 20 percent over the previous week, according to ProduceIQ. Mark Campbell, founder and CEO of ProduceIQ, said short supply on both coasts is the reason for the elevated prices — at a 10-year high for the fourth consecutive week. “Import volume is historically low, and domestic production won’t be able to provide relief for at least three more weeks,” he said.

On the other end of the spectrum, after a few weeks of declining prices, eggplant markets are back on the rise. He said Florida’s supply is significantly below the norm for week No. 10 as growers in Mexico are working to cover the gap. “Import supply is tight but should stay steady or even increase through March,” he said. “Florida's strong demand and anemic supply will likely keep prices trending above average for the next three weeks.”

Once again, harsh weather (last week’s high winds) has impacted lettuce and leaf markets in the Southwest growing regions. Due to high winds, prices of Romaine are up 18 percent over the previous week, and the prices of Iceberg are up 41 percent.

Hope is just around the corner, said Campbell. “The annual spring transition from Yuma to Salinas is under way, and markets will likely feel relief from growers in the Salinas Valley as soon as the end of March.”

Overall, Campbell said the ProduceIQ Index ($1.12) didn’t increase sharply enough to remain higher than in 2022. “2024 is now the second highest for week No. 11 historically. Last week marked the seasonal transition from the low winter price point (when Mexico is in full production) to a standard price increase over the next four weeks. Industry supply declines, and prices rise as transitions begin to move northward again.”

Craig Levitt

Craig Levitt

About Craig Levitt  |  email

When his dreams of becoming a professional hockey player came crashing down due to lack of talent, Craig Levitt turned to journalism. He graduated from Hofstra University in 1992 and has covered various areas of the retail food trade since 1996. Craig joined The Produce News in 2017 and is now managing editor. In his spare time, Craig still plays men’s league hockey (poorly) and enjoys walking the aisles of his favorite supermarket with his wife and two daughters.

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