Baloian Farms' Jay Angulo Details State of Leaf Market on West Coast
FRESNO, CA - We’ve kept a close eye on the lettuce market recently, and have been touching base with those who work in the category. I turned to Jay Angulo of Baloian Farms to learn more about the state of the lettuce market on the West Coast.
“It has seen a big spike over the past week to 10 days,” the Wet Veg Commodity Manager told me. “We’re seeing the biggest increases in demand and pricing on Romaine and Romaine Hearts. We don’t grow Iceberg lettuce, but we follow that market given its similarities to our other leaf lettuces.”
Noting that Iceberg spiked up very quickly, Jay explained that red leaf, green leaf, and butter lettuces followed along at a slighter lower spike than Romaine and Iceberg.
“The biggest issue driving these markets is the lack of supply. Demand seems to be average/steady, but the lack of availability throughout the desert in the Southwest growing regions seems to have caused this spike in the market,” Jay commented. “We’ve also heard issues with yields not being what they should and quality issues in some regions. We’ve been blessed to not have those issues—it’s the weather that has been holding us back.”
Diving into particulars on pricing, Jay outlined what he’s seeing in comparison to last year.
“In 2021, during the month of March, pricing on Romaine and Iceberg was generally $10–14, with red leaf, green leaf, and butter around $8–10. The week of March 8 saw mid-high $40 quotes on Romaine, Romaine Hearts, and Iceberg. We’ve seen the leaf markets in the low to mid $20’s,” he outlined.
In order to mitigate these issues, Jay expressed that Baloian Farms is paying close attention to the forecasts and watching how they might affect production moving forward.
“There are some warm temperatures forecasted for the week of March 14 , which might help the supply situation. However, as we keep approaching April, supplies will lighten up as the industry transitions to coastal California growing regions. Markets could remain high until volume kicks in out of the new growing regions,” he stated. “For buyers, please keep communicating your needs and when you need to load. That will help us push production to fill your orders as best we can.”
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