Let’s check in with the June 26 USDA National Retail Report for fruits and vegetables and assign retailers some scores based on their promotion efforts. This is only a beginning effort, so suggestions are welcome from readers: 

Assumptions: Transportation and f.o.b. prices culled from the June 15 price reports. Transportation costs are based only the  California central valley to Chicago rate. Shipments are reported in 100,000 pound units. Year ago numbers are in parentheses.


First, from the June 26 USDA report, a not about what was hot and what was not:

Sixty-two percent of the produce ads this week were for fruit. Adding to last weeks’ top 5 holdovers of peaches, nectarines and grapes were strawberries and plums. Corn fell out of the top 5 this week. It remained in the vegetable top 5 along with tomatoes on the vine, russet  potatoes, baby carrots, and sweet onions. Tomatoes on the vine and russet potatoes were the highest represented vegetables.


TK: Here are some ways I devised of looking at the numbers the USDA collects on pricing and movement.

Peaches:

For June 26 2009 compared to same week last year:
Stores advertising peaches: 10,181 (10,200, -0.2%)
Shipments for past three weeks (California San Joaquin Valley): 421   (-27%)
Weighted average retail promotion price: $1.56 ($1.55, NC)
Average f.o.b. price 2009:  $16.10 for Calif. 48s to 50s 22 pound container: 73 cents per pound (64 cents, +14%)
Transportation costs: 12 cents per pound (15 cents, -20%)
Raw delivered cost: 85 cents per pound (79 cents, -8%)
Grade: % Raw delivered cost to retail promotion price:  54% (51%)
Comments: The California stone fruit crop is off perhaps double digits from last year, but retailers so far have been keeping retail prices in line with last year despite somewhat higher f.o.b. price levels.

Apples:

For June 26 2009 compared with same week a year ago:
USDA reported stores advertising apples:1,058 (708, +49%)
Weighted average retail promotion price 2009 (red delicious): 96 cents per pound, ($1.35 per pound, -29%)
Average f.o.b. price 2009: $16.50 per carton or 39 cents per pound ( 50 cents per pound,  -22%)
Three most recent weeks of Washington apple shipments: 2215  (+40%)
Transportation costs: 12 cents per pound (15 cents, -20%)
Raw delivered cost: 41 cents per pound (65 cents, -27%)
Score: %  Raw delivered cost to retail promotion price:  43% (46%)
Comment:  Retailers could perhaps open the spigot a little more on apple demand by lowering  retail prices, but the USDA report indicates that weighted average retail prices are down a hefty 29% compared with the same week a year – even more than the decline in the raw delivered price.

Cherries

For June 26 2009 compared with same week a year ago:
USDA reported stores advertising cherries: 4,447 (2,580, +72%)
Three weeks of movement (California ):  697 ( -8%)
Weighted average retail price: $3.13 per pound, ($3.83 per pound, -19%)
Average f.o.b. price:  $40-43 per 18 pound carton, $2.31 per pound ($40-45 per carton, $2.36 per pound, -2%)
Transportation costs: 12 cents per pound (15 cents, -20%)
Raw delivered cost: $2.43 per pound ($2.51 per pound, -27%)
Score: % Raw delivered cost to retail promotion price:  78% (66%)
Comment: Retailers have apparently highlighting cherry promotions, even though f.o.b. prices through mid-June were similar to last year. Heavy volume of cherries from Washington in July should make everyone a cherry buyer in the weeks ahead.

Sweet corn:

For June 26 2009 compared with the same week last year:
USDA reported stores advertising sweet corn: 3,677 (6654, -45%)
Weighted average retail price:  31 cents per ear (32 cents, -3%)
Average f.o.b. price 2009:  $12.95 for four dozen ears: 27 cents each ($6.20 per carton, 13 cents per ear, 106%)
Score: % FOB cost to retail promotion price:  87%, (41%)
Comment: F.o.b. prices for sweet corn have  been up in June compared with a year ago, but retailers have apparently kept retail price points within reach for consumers.