This is the time of year to especially watch the quality on tomatoes says Roger Riehm of Blue Creek Produce LLC. “The concern is always that it’s the tail end of a season and the beginning of a new season and you’re also watching to see how much the rain is affecting local crops in different areas of the U.S,” he says.
Supplies are as per usual at this time of year when southern Florida is wrapping up its tomato production. There the rains have arrived which will help wrap the crop up. “It’s been plentiful south of Immokalee and the mid-section of Florida so things will now progress up to northern Florida,” he says. On top of that, regional production will also get underway in states such as Arkansas and the Carolinas.
At the same time, Mexico also has good availability of tomatoes. “California is delayed a bit. I think their crop won’t be more available until the middle to end of June this year so they won’t be ready for another three weeks to a month,” says Riehm.
Demand picking up
To meet the typical tomato availability at this time of year is strengthening demand. “As you get into Memorial Day weekend, there are always more cookouts and as the Midwest and East Coast start to heat up, there’s always a little lag right after Memorial Day. However things should start to pick up for demand right after that,” he says.
With all of these factors in the mix, that leaves variability in pricing--particularly since quality is uneven. “This is one of the biggest times of inconsistency in pricing because of what they have to offer and what they need to move to finish their crop and quality. People will pay more for stuff that’s delivering well and some of the lesser quality stuff brings pricing down,” Riehm says.
Looking ahead, as new regions get underway, Riehm says the weather patterns in those regions are on watch in the coming weeks. “The plants are starting to mature and the weather will have such an effect on availability in terms of color, sizing and more,” he adds.