Ippolito's Bill Vargas Discusses the Lettuce Category's High Demand and Uncertain Weather
SALINAS, CA - There are some (like a certain beloved frog puppet) who believe “it’s not easy being green,” but when it comes to lettuce, they couldn’t be farther from the truth. Lettuce is as easy as it gets when it comes to the meals consumers construct for themselves. An Insta-worthy salad can be whipped up in no time, because a lettuce base can act as a springboard for creativity and flavor. But without that springboard, nothing truly flies. The lettuce market is one to keep an eye on—it is an ever-in-demand category, so supply and volume are vital, particularly in the face of the upcoming holiday season. I spoke with Bill Vargas, Sales Commodity Manager for Ippolito, who gave me the details on what retailers and buyers should expect this season.
“Demand for Iceberg, Green Leaf, and Romaine is good and markets are tight,” he said. “The next couple weeks will have a moderate to short supply so, combined with the Thanksgiving pull, there will be limited supplies. Currently the Red Leaf market demand is moderate.”
Ippolito closed out its Salinas season on November 1, and wasted no time starting up in Yuma the week of November 4. Like with most crops, the market can hinge on weather conditions, and it is no less true for lettuce. Currently, supplies look to be very light starting out, and lighter volume is expected to continue over the next two to three weeks. With shorter supplies, the price is anticipated to rise, but again, this season’s crop volume and quality are at the mercy of Mother Nature. Unexpected rains in Yuma may see quality and yields impacted.
“It appears that quite a few shippers who transition from Salinas directly to Yuma will start behind schedule, most others starting the week of November 11,” Bill told me. “Huron supplies appeared to be lighter for the week of November 4, and finished up most likely the week of November 11 before transitioning to Yuma.”
Ippolito is currently in Mother Nature’s good graces, as the company is seeing favorable growing weather in Yuma and hopes that the mild conditions will help to move lettuce forward and fill in light supplies.
“If the weather stays decent, supplies should improve,” Bill explained. “For growers who had the seeds in the ground, there may be some ups and downs ahead with yields and supplies in Yuma due to the heavy rains in September.”
Retailers and buyers should keep their eyes to the skies, looking out for weather conditions that can impact volume and pricing, especially as the industry heads into this high-demand season.
AndNowUKnow will continue to bring exclusive updates on the state of the market.
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Ippolito International is a second-generation farming company providing year-round supplies of premium quality Queen...