Red Book Credit Services

Produce Industry Insider Market Update

Florida Cucumbers Market Snapshot

The U.S. Department of Agriculture was reporting the following prices on cucumbers from South Florida:

Waxed 1 1/9 bushel cartons/crates medium mostly $10.35-10.85, fair quality $5.35-6.85, small $7.35-8.85; cartons 24s mostly $4-4.85

*Prices from the USDA's National F.O.B. Review, March 26.

The Shipping Scene

Florida cucumbers have begun shipping, and quality should be decent after the effects of some winds and cold weather work themselves out.

Florida's east coast shippers already are into good volume, and west coast shippers in the Immokalee area are coming into volume this week, said Rick Stauffer, vice president at Seminole Produce Distributing Co. Inc. in Sanford.

Quality is "real good" with nice, dark color, but there are a few more select-grade cucumbers than usual because of some wind scarring, he said.

That condition is only temporary though, and should improve by next week.

The deal next will move up to Plant City and then overlap with Georgia in mid-April, he said. Some cucumbers from north Florida will be available into May.

Prices this week "are a little bit on the soft side," he said, primarily because imports from Honduras are still around, and because the new fields from Florida are very productive.

"There are a few too many (cucumbers)," Stauffer said, which means it's a good time for retailers to promote.

"The quality is very good, the condition is very good, and we have a good cucumber to offer right now," he said.

Florida's cucumber volume should be the same or less than last year's, he said.

Brian Arrigo, president of Southern Corporate Packers Inc., Immokalee, said wind and cold weather may well affect yields in the near future.

"We may see a little shortage of cucumbers coming up for the next week or so," he said.

But he said, "Quality will be fine."

Arrigo said he would like to see prices higher than what they were this week.

Some suppliers have had Florida cucumbers for a couple of weeks, said Tom Nicholson, a buyer with Ben Litowich & Son Inc., a broker based in Coconut Creek.

Product from Honduras gradually is being replaced by cucumbers from places like Immokalee, Boynton Beach, Clewiston and Delray Beach, he said.

Quality and sizing have been nice but, like other sellers, he warned that, "We've had a lot of wind here, which will affect all the crops with some scarring."

The market is relatively cheap, but could turn around at any time, he added.

C&D Fruit & Vegetable Co. Inc., Bradenton, should start to ship cucumbers about April 10, on schedule, said Steve O'Brien, vice president.

He expected good sizing and good quality.

"So far, the crop looks fine," he said. "It's been a good deal overall."

The only concerns have been the winds and lack of rain, he said.

Cucumber shipments should continue for seven to eight weeks or when supplies come in from Georgia.

"It all depends on Mother Nature and the market," O'Brien said.

C&D faces competition from other Florida growers as well as imports through Nogales, Ariz., he said.

"There are quite a few planted out there," he said.

(By Tom Burfield, Western correspondent for The Packer. The Packer and Red Book Credit Services are part of food360º, a division of Vance Publishing Corp., Lincolnshire, Ill.)