Fresh Farms says cold weather is the wild card this year for Mexican crops
A cold snap during the winter growing season in Mexico is not all that unusual. But this season has seen more than it’s fair share of temperature swings, according to Fresh Farms, the Rio Rico, AZ-based U.S. sales arm for the Molina Group.
“We’ve had some pretty cold weather in Mexico, and it started even earlier than normal this year in late September,” said Dave Watson, senior vice president of sales and marketing for Fresh Farms. “One week it will warm up but then the next it drops back down, resulting in some production fluctuations.”
Marco Serrano, who works in sales at Fresh Farms, said squash was running short the third week of January due to cold in the Guaymas region in Sonora.
“It’s been cold from Guaymas down to Los Mochis,” Serrano said. “We have some new sets of cukes and Bells coming on, but it’s been a bit slower due to the cold so production has been off a bit. The same is true with corn and greens, which are also running a few weeks late due to the cold weather.”
Serrano said markets have been good overall, especially for the fall watermelon and cantaloupe crops, and customers have been happy with the quality.
“We received our first loads of conventional colored Bells over the weekend,” Serrano said Jan. 24.
“The market has been steady at around $18-22 due to limited volume out of Florida. We should have a pretty good window until California starts in the spring.”
Serrano said the squash market has been steady at around $8-12, and slicer cucumbers have garnered $22-26, which he called “a very good market.”
Fresh Farms is also a year-round supplier of grapes, and Watson said the company finished California in December and started Peru and Chile at the beginning of the year.
“Chile also has gotten hit by cold weather, and that has grapes running about three weeks late,” he said. “Peru has had strikes due to labor and political issues, causing delays in production, logistics and overall supply.”
Closer to its home base in Mexico, Watson said the grape crop in Jalisco is looking at an on-time start in late March to early April, with Sonora following in early May.
“We’re excited about our Mexican grapes this year, and we are growing in volume out of both Jalisco and Sonora,” said Watson. “We’re hearing all good things so far from the vineyards.”
He said Fresh Farms is especially excited about its candy varieties, such as Cotton Candy, Candy Hearts, Candy Snaps, Candy Dreams, Sweet Bon and Sweet Sapphires.
“These are all excellent eating varieties that are delightful for consumers,” Watson said. “Typically, stores offer the basic red, green and black varieties, but now they can offer excitement with these candy varieties. They will eventually become more of a staple, but there needs to be more awareness.”
To accomplish that, Watson said retailers need to promote them more at the store level.
“The key is to establish good partnerships with retailers and develop programs to expose consumers to these varieties and help move more grapes,” he said.