Supplies of organic baby lettuce are good currently. Patty Emmert of Duncan Family Farms in Goodyear, AZ notes that supplies are coming from both the desert region of Central Arizona--Yuma and the Imperial Valley and supplies also come from Florida. Duncan will be in Arizona with these crops until April which is when it transitions for the summer season to supplies from California and Oregon.
It’s believed that continued steadiness lies ahead for the crop. “As we come into the warmer time in the winter, we’ll see steadier growth. There does not seem to be any indication that there will be significant issues with the exception of the typical pest pressure that comes in as the weather warms up,” says Emmert.
As for demand, Emmert notes that some major storms in the Northeast have slowed demand which in turn have created ample supply. “The overall demand has remained strong throughout the pandemic with people seeking healthier options to boost their immune systems—not only lettuce, but all produce remains strong in terms of demand,” she says. She adds that with buying patterns, consumption levels will likely continue to remain strong in this category.
As an organic grower, Emmert has seen some other trends in the organic category emerge. “The consumer continues to demand more transparency in the supply chain, especially in regard to sustainable practices, including social equity and animal welfare,” she says. “Flavor is another attribute that’s been trending. As we continue to see an increase in plant-based diets and healthier eating patterns, we will also see the demand for better tasting produce amplify.”
She adds as well that while consumers’ interest in local product has been trending for awhile, Duncan Family Farms is witnessing an uptick in the requests for local or regional items from retailers. “Some of the supply chain challenges we as an industry have been experiencing since COVID-19 will require us to look more at localized production models as well as shortening and optimizing supply chains,” Emmert notes.