Bridges Produce's Oscar Trujillo, Ben Johnson, and Sydney Fairchild Discuss Peak Mexican Vegetable Season
MEXICO - It’s Mexican veg time, y’all! The flavors of the season have taken root, and suppliers from across the industry are in peak season to bring premium product to the shelf and the kitchen. To hear what Bridges Produce has in store, I recently got in touch with a few of the company’s leaders.
“While Bridges had a steady year-round cucumber and hard squash program (domestic and Mexican), the bulk of our Mexican program starts in late September and goes into June,” began Oscar Trujillo, Category Manager of Mexican Sales. “We are now at the point in the season where we have a full product range shipping out of Nogales, Arizona, including summer and winter squash, cucumbers, eggplant, and bell and chili peppers. We will also have melons come the spring season.”
Oscar relayed that prices have been aggressive and are being held down by plenty of competition in general. Trucking costs have also reportedly held prices down, as the end customers are generally not absorbing the rising costs of production and distribution.
“When so many other industries are struggling with various supply chain issues, the produce industry has maintained production without significant disruptions,” added Ben Johnson, President. “That said, our grower partners are facing enormous increases in costs from water, cardboard, pallets, labor, and transportation. We are hitting a very significant pinch point with rising costs and flat produce prices, and we must all work to bring some better prices back to the farm or we will lose the key growers that we all rely on.”
Bridges’ strong network of grower partners allows the company to ship from Sonora (Hermosillo and Guaymas), Sinaloa, and Querétaro, Mexico. Transitioning between regions allows the team the ability to have consistent supplies with minimal gaps. Oscar stated that overall production has been strong on most items, with many starting slightly earlier than previous years. The weather has been good with no significant crop damage or delays.
“We continue to have strong volume and great quality on summer squash, eggplant, hot peppers, and winter squash. We have many plantings on most items, so we will continue to cycle into new production throughout the year. Acorn squash is seeing a firmer market this year compared to other years, but we have regular supplies ongoing. Look for volume deals on Kabocha squash now and through January,” Oscar explained.
He continued, stating that bell peppers are kicking off and the industry should expect promotional pricing starting by the new year from most shippers. Euro cucumbers have been a strong addition to Bridges’ winter lineup, with regular supplies long term. Slicer cucumber production is gapping and the industry should expect a very tight market for a while, though hopefully there will be some production increase soon.
How can you make the most of these markets at retail? Eggplants, for example, are one item that can make interesting edible tree decorations. Ben stated that while the holidays are a busy time for the produce industry, Bridges Produce prides itself on being a consistent and reliable partner with high-quality, organic produce throughout the entire year.
“While we continue to live in a constantly evolving world due to the pandemic, people want to cook their favorite holiday dishes and bring back the sense of tradition that was missing for many last year,” said Sydney Fairchild, Marketing and Compliance. “Between this and the new year push toward healthy eating, it is a busy time for the organic produce industry. These New Year resolutions put a focus on produce items that are seen as versatile and healthy substitutions like winter squash, zucchini, and bell peppers.”
And there you have it! The winter vegetable program is sure to keep your produce dollars flowing, and Bridges Produce has the supplies you need to keep it that way.