Supplies of eggplant look a little tighter after Hurricane Florence.
“Supplies are moderate. There’s not an overabundance of eggplant but there’s not a shortage either. Even with the hurricane damage, there seem to be enough supplies,” says Calvert Cullen of Northampton Growers Produce Sales, Inc. in Cheriton, VA. The crop began three weeks ago and Cullen anticipates it should go until Thanksgiving, when Northampton transitions to the Florida crop.
The hurricane, which hit the Carolinas in the middle of September, didn’t have much of an impact on Northampton’s Virginia crop of eggplant. “While corn and green beans were the two crops hardest hit, with eggplant, there’s nothing that we can’t get through,” he says. “A lot of stuff was blown over but of course everything was staked and tied so we were able to stand stuff back up, restake it and keep going.”
At the same time, Cullen believes less eggplant has been planted overall in 2018.
While his crop wasn’t affected by Florence, where Cullen is seeing the difference is in demand for eggplant. “Demand is good. Demand seems to be a little better though that could just be supply and demand,” he says. “North Carolina was wiped out in Hurricane Florence so that’s one growing region affected and making a difference for other areas. Demand should be fairly even in the next couple of weeks.” He anticipates shortages may come due to the hurricane fallout.
All of this combined makes for slightly higher pricing this year on eggplant. “Pricing is up I think. It looks like it’s up close to 25 percent higher. But again, with that North Carolina crop out, I think that’s why there’s a surge in demand. It’s been steady,” he says.
Looking ahead, while he anticipates more steady movement for eggplant, he’s also keeping an eye out for future eggplant concerns. “Anytime you have hurricanes, you don’t know the possible problems down the line. It will take a couple of weeks to find those problems but right now we’re not anticipating any,” he says.