(March 21) Florida agriculture leaders are reminding consumers and retail produce buyers that the state’s spring crops have returned to full production and are available in promotable quantities.

Reports have shown that some buyers believe Hurricane Wilma caused lingering Florida product shortages, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Tallahassee, said in a March 13 news release.

Produce sales in the Northeast have been uncharacteristically sluggish so far this year, it reported.

In addition to its normal retail promotional programs, the department is running newspaper advertisements in major Northeastern city newspapers announcing that fresh Florida produce is available.

The advertisements, which run in New York, Boston, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, say, “The crops are in and fresh Florida fruits and vegetables are making a statement in the marketplace.”

Dan Sleep, senior analyst with the department’s division of marketing, said volume has increased and consumers should soon see lower grocery prices.

“It’s a quick way to get the message out to everyone that we’re back in business,” he said. “If prices are high, there’s no reason for that.”