IPR Fresh anticipates improved 2021 business
Mexican sweet corn conditions were strong for IPR Fresh as the Nogales distributor rolled toward the spring deal.
“Our corn program has seen a big increase from last year,” said Jose Luis Obregon, the president of the firm.
Generally, the fall and early-winter Nogales deals were difficult. But Obregon expected improved supplies and market conditions for the spring deal. He hoped for increased volume to support retail promotions. And he anticipated a revitalization of the national foodservice industry.
In a late-January interview, Obregon said IPR was already faring well with the corn.
“At IPR, we handle a full line, albeit less this year because of the weather. On our corn, prices have been up there. We’ve avoided frost in the growing area,” which is Obregon, Sonora. “That crop has really delivered.”
The watermelon market has been challenging because of weather conditions which didn’t sufficiently boost sugar levels. A lack of heat was keeping colored Bell peppers from coloring up, so IPR has been behind intended scheduling to reach the market.
He hoped improved production weather in February would lead to “good seasonable volumes” in March.
“What we can look forward to is a good spring in Hermosillo, with squash, cucumbers and eggplant.” Hermosillo, Sonora, shipping was expected to begin in the first week of March.
In the family’s Sonoran hometown, Obregon, named for Jose Luis Obregon’s great grandfather, IPR Fresh is involved in the production of sweet and chili peppers. This winter there was an oversupply of the chilis, he noted.
“Markets have also been weak for lettuces, green Bells and Mexican (grey) squash.” IPR’s European cucumber deal had also been slow but was picking up going into February.
IPR will continue shipping Bell peppers and other vegetables from Culiacan, Sinaloa, into the end of May.
Jalisco growers, who will begin shipping volumes in June, are expected to keep IPR Fresh in organic and conventional Bell pepper volume through the summertime.
The market outlook
Obregon said “it’s been frustrating not to have consistent ads with retailers, due to a lack of volume on Bells. We’ve been waiting for volume, but it’s been a difficult season. We hope the weather changes and we’ll be able to do more.”
Consistent with the broad industry, Obregon acknowledged that, because of the Covid pandemic, “foodservice business has dropped off” in the last year. In recent weeks, “it’s up a bit but it’s not like it was before the pandemic. The numbers are way down.
“Hopefully, this will all change soon. We expect good things for the remainder of the year. IPR continues to fill orders as much as we can.”