Sammy Duda of Duda Farm Fresh Foods Discusses Cool Season Crops in the Yuma Market
YUMA, AZ - With the holidays upon us, and the New Year on the horizon, food and feasting are on consumers minds now more than ever. As such, I connected with Sammy Duda, V.P. of Western Operations for Duda Farm Fresh Foods, to discuss what to anticipate in the cool season vegetable category for the remainder of the year, and how produce buyers can leverage technology to juice up sales.
“Typically celery, broccoli, and cauliflower are in high demand for the holiday period,” Sammy mentioned. “As the cool weather staples of the holiday spread, these items add nutrition, flavor, and visual appeal to festive meals for consumers.”
According to Sammy, the industry has faced some challenges this season in these high demand crops, with mild conditions in October and a warmer than average November putting crops seven to ten days ahead of schedule. In addition to oversupply, this unseasonably warm weather created maturity and heat issues with the celery, broccoli, and cauliflower categories. However, Sammy reports that conditions have recently cooled considerably, putting crops closer to schedule, with fingers crossed there won’t be any frost and corresponding blister or peel.
In contrast to 2015, which saw historic high prices and low volumes, Sammy anticipates a better market this year, adding, “There is a current dip in prices, but demand and pricing are expected to improve as the holidays approach.”
Despite the challenges, Sammy reports that supplies are good, with prices fair to weak. With the cooler weather, growth might slow down which brings the risk of supply gaps, resulting in a slightly tighter market close to the holiday pull.
To thrive in an industry that lives at the mercy of Mother Nature, Duda Farm Fresh Foods has forged its reputation through breeding innovation and proprietary varieties. The company’s celery program, its flagship product, has been recognized by the Florida Agricultural Hall of Fame.
“Technology can be duplicated, but proprietary varieties and our breeding program cannot. Tech goes hand-in-hand with our research to help us align with our vision of bringing the best quality and flavor to consumers,” Sammy explained.
Working with growers who value innovation is just one way retailers can get a leg up on challenging markets, and bring more value to the produce department, no matter what the weather may have in store.