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California Strawberry - April 7, 2020

4/7/2020  By Dan Winiecke
California Strawberry - April 7, 2020The California strawberry crop is moving toward larger volume numbers over the next few weeks. The confusion in the marketplace over COVID-19 has put uncertainty into the current fresh market. The processing portion of the crop is also experiencing difficulties. The volume YTD of freezer grade fruit being delivered to processors is a little higher than this same time last year. Most of this volume is being generated out of Baja, Mexico. The supply of juice grade fruit in California is short this season. This comes at a time of short supply inventory and high demand for the product. Field price posting for this item is up $0.02-$0.10 per pound over where it was last year. It is very difficult to get an idea of where this will end up. The field price for freezer grade fruit has also come out higher this year. Pricing is up about the same level as juice grade increases. It looks like there could be interest in USDA buying as much as 75 million pounds of freezer grade fruit on a bonus buy this year as well. The amount of uncertainty in the strawberry industry is large right now. One long time member of the strawberry industry recently stated that they have "no vision" of what is happening or where this is all going. The strawberry crop will develop as we move forward. Recent weather events have added some disruption, but the bigger questions of where the markets will go remain unanswered at this time. Low inventory and high demand in some areas are adding to that mix. All of this will continue to evolve as we get deeper into the season.