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IPR Fresh seeing ‘historically high’ prices for its colored Bells

By
John Groh

Despite a slow start for its colored Bell pepper deal, IPR Fresh is now seeing strong movement and prices for its main commodity and is optimistic the good market conditions will continue through the spring.

Jose Luis Obregon, president of Nogales, AZ-based IPR Fresh, told The Produce News in late January that the deal was delayed out of the gate in early November but started picking up in mid-December and has been going strong ever since.

“We were lucky, as some growers experienced significant delays and shortages, but fortunately that was not the case for us,” he said. “Our growers are in an area of Mexico that wasn’t hit as hard by Hurricane Lidia, and the weather was more favorable there this winter.”

As a result of being flush with product, IPR Fresh has been able to take advantage of what Obregon called “historically high” prices for colored Bells. He said 11-pound boxes of conventional peppers saw a high mark of $30 – more than double the $10-15 they trade for in a normal year. Organic product was selling for $5-6 more per box.

“We expect the season to continue with good movement, and for prices to moderate further into the spring,” he said. “I like the conditions now, and they have been great for getting a good return to our growers, but the consumers need a break, too.”

Expanding on his commentary about IPR’s growers, Obregon said it has been a tough situation for them in recent years, with higher costs on raw materials and inputs, and unfavorable exchange rates that further cut into their profitability. “This was a very atypical year for them, but it helped them out a lot so it was much needed,” he said.

The successful season also is due in part to strong communications that IPR maintains with its growers, said Obregon.

“This year we scaled back on contracts because the market was very unpredictable,” he said.

“In fact, many of the companies that have contracts were citing the Act of God clause. But by maintaining good communication with our growers, we knew in advance what we could expect with supply and that allowed us to make good, informed decisions.”

Obregon said IPR expects to have good, consistent supplies of colored Bells through mid-June, when its season wraps up for the summer before restarting in the fall.

John Groh

John Groh

About John Groh  |  email

John Groh graduated from the University of San Diego in 1989 with a bachelors of arts degree in English. Following a brief stint as a sportswriter covering the New York Giants football team, he joined The Produce News in 1995 as an assistant editor and worked his way up the ranks, becoming publisher in 2006. He and his wife, Mary Anne, live in northern New Jersey in the suburbs of New York City.

 

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