Lettuce is currently being grown and shipped from the Imperial Valley, Yuma and Coachella districts. For Coastline Family Farms, whose winter headquarters are in Brawley, CA, supplies are growing in the Imperial Valley and Yuma: “This includes our romaine, green leaf, red leaf, iceberg and butter lettuce,” says Mark McBride. Despite the many ups and downs caused by the pandemic, McBride says that the crop and its market are in good shape.
Lower volumes to adjust to circumstances
The pandemic brought with it a lot of unforeseen changes and being able to foresee and deal with uncertainties became more important than ever. The closure of foodservice, for example, has had an effect on many different products in the industry and lettuce is no exception. Coastline Family Farms has made some adjustment in their plantings to reflect the changes in demand. McBride shares: “The current volumes we have are lower than what we had at this time last year. This is due, in large part, to the acreage reductions we put in place because of the uncertainties associated with the pandemic.”
While the overall volumes are lower, the demand in the market remains consistent. “We moderated the planted acreage of most (if not all) of our commodities as a response to the changes in overall consumption patterns we’ve been seeing due to the pandemic. The latest Covid-related restrictions have adversely affected many foodservice items, but the elevated levels of home cooking that this situation brings has ensured that overall demand has remained consistent,” McBride explains.
Lighter volumes but improved FOB’s so far this year
The current volumes of lettuce are lighter, McBride shares. “The weather of the past month has been variable. The desert areas started out warmer than normal, but then in the middle of December the weather cooled down and we even saw several frosty mornings. This has led to lighter volumes at the start of this month,” he says.
The lighter volumes have also been accompanied by an improvement in FOB’s. McBride explains: “The recent holiday didn’t bring any excitement to the market really, but we got through the holiday weeks in good shape, overall. The first week of the year, though, we have seen some improvements and have experienced better business.”
Despite all the uncertainties, ups and downs, and everything else that the pandemic has brought with it, McBride remains optimistic. “Regardless of where people eat, our industry and our commodities are central to a healthy, robust lifestyle, and they will keep us all well-equipped to face life, regardless of the challenges out there!” he concludes.