November 29, 2018

  Market Notes
November 29, 2018



Wow, what a week!  Spinach debacle of 2006 redux! Fortunately we do not sell romaine per say. We do sell mesclun (spring mix to you pagans) and wouldn’t you know it, there is baby green romaine in the mix.  Even though it was grown thousands of miles away, was grown, harvested and processed differently than commodity romaine our mesclun receivers freaked out.  Any mention of the word with any association romaine sends folks running.  The fickle customers did not know what to do so they all dumped and requested credit. Growers went crazy too. Frist they agreed to cover any losses. Then they decided that the FDA was wrong and all mixed were fine. Of course we were told that we were the only people in the entire country that were complaining about romaine in the mix. Meanwhile the dump stopped taking the rejected mixes in Jersey as they got too backed up. So, what we swore would never happen again, indeed did. Customer said can’t use, grower said no problems, PACA says pay and the FDA doesn’t care. Then, because they can mesclun doubled in price and magically they took the baby green romaine out of the mix. Why? If everyone was using the mix with it why take it out? We call BS on three sides but it does not matter, we still have to pay. Growers see an opportunity to gauge, and they do. Customers see an opportunity for credit, they jump. Government can’t figure it out, they cancel everything.  Even today the FDA and CDC both have defined the potential area of contamination to a minimum three hundred mile area. After what we went through with the spinach we do not understand why the area of contamination cannot be narrowed down sooner with a smaller range. Perhaps we will know more when Trump releases his taxes we will know more.

                       THE GREEN SCENE GETTING MEAN

So while all the greens went crazy last week to cover national romaine purge, prices soared and product suddenly got very tight, even of it was abundant.  Mesclun, spinach, arugula, kale and frisee doubled in price and suddenly weren’t available. Growers had to make up for the lost sales of romaine. Even greens growers who did not grow romaine decided to cover for what would have been potential loses if they had grown romaine. Availability for customers who ordered steady was stripped away while product would go to the highest bidder. This was definitely a “smoke ‘em if you got ‘em” attitude. Now that romaine has been approved for consumption once again, one would expect the prices to come down, but no. Cold weather and even ice blankets are being predicted for Yuma and the Imperial Valley. The cold nights will slow down the growth while the early field harvest to cash in on the anti-romaine craze will create a real shortage. Inflated prices are now holding and expected to rise as the cold front passes. We don’t expect to see prices drop for at least two weeks if at all.  If the freeze does the expected damage we will see real allocations through the holidays.  Prices and availability will be quoted at time of sale. One secret we will share, but don’t tell anybody; the baby lettuce did not change price and is a heavy weight case. SHHHHH!



    I won’t stab you in the back, I can’t.  Although I am crispy, I’d probably break first.  As the main ingredient in the King’s salad, I don’t roam very far.  But whether to have me before or after a meal is a debate that has gone on since the time of Augustus.  Some say I originated in the Aegean while others insist on Asia.  I am a member of the sunflower family.  Originally grown the oil in my seeds, now people only want my heart. I usually remain loyal green and large leafed but the modern day yuppies made me baby and red.  Americans eat about 30 #’s of me a year and it’s no wonder, because I’m so versatile. I am often seen on a plate bed, in a salad, served with fruit or anchovies, cooked in a soup, shredded on pizzas, or pickled.  At home with croutons or anchovies I am also that crisp bit you yearn for on your best burger. I contain folate, vitamins A & C, potassium and fiber.


Answer To Last Week’s Quiz:…BERGAMOT…Congrats To All Winners

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