Market Notes Dec. 31, 2020
2020 – This Years Top Ten Let’s Remember When
“It’s a crooked piece of time that we live in, a crooked piece of time.
All in all and all in all it’s a crooked piece of time.” -John Prine-10) INVENTORY – No more hedging and several warehouses with lots of empty space. This was the beginning. As operations closed, inventory diminishes. No more waiting for that late order to exceed customer expectation. Get in, get out, quickly and cleanly. Social distance overrode professional distance and work was just the “essentials.” 9) FORGOTTEN FINGERLINGS– As food became difficult to come by due to price and availability, staple products of produce became scarce. Basic commodities soared in movement but the specialty potatoes were ignored by customers and food box operations. Even when priced the same or lower, for several months the interest disappeared. When the russets ran tight, the buyers perked up. 8) DRIVE THRU & DELIVERY-The people were still here, they just did not want to see or be around other people. Restaurant deliveries became residential deliveries, B&I deliveries became supermarket deliveries. Warehouse walk through became a thing and then the $25 box, the $50 box, the $150 box, the picnic box, the holiday box, all pre-ordered and available curbside or drive-thru. Distribution shifted nimbly with the market. 7) VIRTUAL FOOD SHOWS – Trade shows went on line and while the success was touted (would we expect anything else) virtual tasting has not yet been mastered. The effort was necessary and maintained limited success, many aspects were difficult to cover. 6) STORE DEMO NO GO– This really hurt. In January with one of our long term customers we rolled out a new potato product with intended national distribution to a chain that rhymes with Bosco. The product was demo dependent and that was ended in March. This along with many other specialty products (Ramps, Morels) were dropped by many markets and wholesalers who were going to focus on potatoes, onions, head lettuce and broccoli. Overall specialty produce took a big hit for much of the year. Tough deal for a specialty produce company. 5) OFFICE SPACE– Doctors, who refused to talk to patients on the phone, insisting they come to and pay for an office visit changed their policy overnight. So did produce sales and buying offices. With computer networking, Skype, Zoom, Web-ex and Teams the home office excelled and employers saw the long term advantages. The efficiencies are tremendous. From no more rush hour to less auto emissions. From putting in the hours to getting the job done. If America keeps this model when it is once again safe to mingle output will increase, employers will save and employees can declare their homes as work space. More time, more money, just the essentials and more accomplishment. Where’s the fun in that. 4) FRIEDA CAPLAN – The hero of the specialty produce industry left us this year, but Frieda is far from gone. Her legacy is simply too strong. From being the first too many times to count, mentoring at every opportunity and being visionary about the industry Frieda Caplan set the pace and style to create a new market. The specialty produce demand soared and we probably would not be here without the openings Frieda created. Her legacy lives on in her children and grandchildren and we are proud of the association. Frieda knew what we were going to do before we did it. Amazing lady (mic drop). 3) POLITICAL TRUCKING – We have tried not be political, which is a task this year, but this one has to be heard. From late August of 2020 through the election trucks began to boycott the east coast “blue States.” We shit you not. Getting trucks from Colorado to Boston became scarce and expensive because the truckers were concerned they were going to be attacked by left wing crazies. This was wrong on so many levels we thought this could not possibly be true. Then we saw the rates jump up over 25% when trucks were overall abundant. Go figure. If they could drop and reload west of the Mississippi, they would, and they did. 2) PINK PINEAPPLE – Probably the most interesting new produce this year. While the cost remains high (its already dropped a bit) this pineapple adds sweetness and color to drinks, cakes, cookies as well as being a stunning vessel for salads of all types. Kudos to Del Monte. 1) COVID-19/VACCINE– Seven of this year’s top ten are Covid related. It continues to influence every aspect of our lives and impossible to ignore. It’s politicization and unintended divisiveness has brought both the best and the worst of our national beliefs and continues to kill regardless of race, creed, color or greed. Due to this virus some have soared, but several more have fallen and continue to do so, on many levels. Thankfully, due to science, it is not likely we will have this problem next year. Good things to look forward to. Let’s build back better!
From us and ours to you and yours wishing you a safe, happy and healthy New Year Produce Quiz on vacation will return January 7, 2021.
Call 908-789-4700 –Lisa or Richard– Fax 908-789-4702 Visit us at www.culinaryproduce.com “like” us @ Culinary Specialty Produce on Facebook© Culinary Specialty Produce, Inc., 2020