March 3rd, 2022
NATIONAL FINGERLING SHORTAGE & PRICE INCREASE
We have been writing about this for a while, but now it is here, and we will do our best to recap and explain to the best of our ability. While we will often refer to the national trends we will also include the Culinary outlook on price and supply. Covid-19 and all the associated viruses and lock downs changed the food service and retail industry. Food boxes became very popular and distributors became retailers with drive through and home delivery. This helped a little bit to offset the loss of business from restaurants, B&I, schools, and cruise ships. Those who supplied the above-mentioned categories were hurting so the drive through and home delivery was a relatively easy transition and could compete with the retail curbside pick-ups. The government sponsored funds for food also helped keep both people and businesses alive. Potatoes were in huge demand during this period Russets and rounds moved out at an incredible pace and storage supply was used up quickly. The 2020-2021 potato season was one of the best on record for sales and volume. Unfortunately, this was not true for the fingerling potato varieties. The fingerlings, primarily a food-service potato, suffered greatly in both sales and movement. Many fingerling growers had to toss a lot of crop they could not sell. Fingerling potatoes were not used for food boxes either handed out or bought. The fingerlings that were sold were so below cost most growers lost on their crops for that season. The Buffalo ate very well that year! After a season of huge losses from their fingerling crops, combined with the fact that food service operations remained questionable, many growers reduced or altogether dropped their fingerling program, unable to survive another season of losses. As restaurants slowly re-opened, the demand for fingerlings increased, and when the retailers ran short on the russets and round fingerling demand increased in retail as well. With increased demand and decreased supply fingerlings ran short. That’s where we are now. While we do not know every grower in the country, we do know many, and all of them report their fingerling potato finishing up early. Our contracted crop from Colorado is almost done. For the remaining product growers are asking for more money, and they should. As costs of transportation, boxes, pallets, pallet wrap, corner boards, and even tape went up, we continually lower our growers return to keep pricing steady. We can’t do that in a market that is tight. We both need and want to pay them more so they can continue to supply us with product for years to come. Over the next few weeks, we will complete our availability to ship from Colorado. These final loads will be at an increased rate of about three to five dollars a case. After that we will be shipping from California which will be another price increase, once again due to grower price increase and transportation. That will be a minimum of an additional five dollars a case. As the global fuel distribution is readjusted, the cost of transportation is actually unknown. We will also have pockets of lower product cost as some of the new crop is with our contracted growers so price, while certainly going up, we will have pockets of price drop. We will pass these along as they occur. Our phone has been ringing off the hook with new customers looking for fingerlings. Many of our growers are fielding the same calls. Culinary has made the decision to politely pass by the fair-weather customers and work hard to maintain supply to our existing base, regardless of cost. If our assumptions are correct we will have uninterrupted service during this gap period. If we are wrong, we will have priced ourselves out of the market and wait until our costs come down. Either way our base will have access to product, hopefully from us. That’s our story and we are sticking with it. We will stay ahead and keep you informed as price and availability fluctuate.
NEW PRODUCE QUIZ – WHO AM I ???
They call the tree upon which I am born “The Wall Tree”. Depending on who you ask I have between 200 and 400 varieties. I was first documented in Chinese literature by the great philosopher Confucius around 479 BCE. It wasn’t until 140 BCE that I, the Chinese Fruit, was brought to Rome by the great Chinese emissary Jan Qian. The Chinese consider me the fruit of life, and my blossoms are worn around a young bride’s neck to symbolize virginity and fertility. Before arriving in Europe and later America (in the year 1515) I spent quite a bit of time in Persia where I acquired several new qualities. I added another possible color for my flesh and developed the ability to grow larger. When I arrived in Rome I was called the “Persian Apple”. Pliny complained that I have more juice than flavor and he had to keep changing his toga. But some claim I am the ambrosia for the gods. With a firm but delicately juicy flesh, I used to be quite a delicacy, and very difficult to come by. Today I am one of the most popular fruits on the planet. In the month of July, we are singularly responsible for one-third of all fruit consumption in the USA. Best eaten fresh, I can also be canned, dried, pureed or juiced. My sweetness tends to keep me in the dessert category, but I am great alone as a snack, spread as a jam on your favorite breakfast bread, or used in chutneys. I have the highest vitamin count of all fruit especially high in vitamin A and C
Answer to last quiz….SNAP PEAS…Congrats to all winners!
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