Weekly produce update - June 12 - 19

WCPI Buyers, Mike, Adrian, Jerud and John give the scoop on local produce trends for mid-June.

Mike Ball:
Strawberries: Quality is great (Watsonville and Salinas) Produce locally is in full swing. Santa Maria finishing up.
Raspberries: (Watsonville) Good quality and supply.
Celery:  CONVENTIONAL, Volume improving daily, prices are dropping. Larger sizes are hard to get right now. (Salinas/Oxnard)
Iceberg:  Demand is improving, but supplies are tighter due to planting gap caused by the spring rains. (Salinas Valley)
Leaf Items:  Leaf items remain plentiful with useable quality. Prices are down. (Salinas Valley)
Artichokes: Very HIGH prices, short supply. (Castroville/Salinas/Oxnard)

Adrian Contreras, ORGANIC UPDATE:
Stonefruit: ORGANIC stonefruit (California/Central Valley) coming on strong. Peaches, nectarines, plums and apricots. Prices will be coming down every week – fruit is getting bigger. Apricots gapping a bit.
Carrots: PLENTY! (Bakersfield)
Summer Squash: starting locally (Hollister/San Juan) Mixed cases coming in this week
Packaged Salads: NEW Josie’s Organic label (Salinas Valley) Full line of salads now in stock!
Broccoli/Cauliflower: Coming on strong (Salinas Valley) prices way down this week.
Celery: Prices coming down this week, supply slowly getting better (Salinas Valley)

Jerud Manfre:
ORGANIC Monterey Mushrooms (Watsonville) nice quality, starting to sell more organic volume. CONVENTIONAL Fitz Fresh (Watsonville) good quality as well.

John Burkett:  
Summer Squash: CONVENTIONAL Local squash (Watsonville) coming in: Yellow extra fancy, great quality, better price. Italian extra fancy coming soon.
Blue Lake Beans (Green Beans): CONVENTIONAL (Watsonville) shorting by the end of the week.
Stone Fruit: Getting into better quality and size, prices staying firm. Labor/Contracts affecting cost. (California/San Joaquin Valley)
Oranges: All Valencias very good quality and taste (California/Central Valley)

Buyers update on the following items coming in:

David Garcia:
The banana market has remained strong. Prices remain steady but will see it drop down with the onset of other fruits coming into the market place. Chiquita is running a bit tight on fruit, due to playing catch up with past sourcing issues. Organic Grow has good supply. Quality for both organic & conventional bananas is very good right now. 

Mike Ball:
Production is increasing in Baja California and Oxnard, prices coming down – Quality is good.
Blackberries: (Mexico) Quality and supply are both good

Adrian Contreras (ORGANIC):
(Coachella) Running strong, all colors – pricing coming down a bit and taste is getting better.
Watermelon:  watermelons are tight, will be coming soon, mini’s too. (Bakersfield)
Russet Potatoes:  Gapping on counts – had a few in stock, but sold out. New California crop about two weeks out.

Jerud Manfre:
California onions are coming in nice, not much skin, but holding up well. Price is steady, yellow onion pricing soon to be on the rise.
Russet Potatoes: CONVENTIONAL – no California Russets this year. Prices on the rise until the new crop from the Northwest starts in July.
Eggs: Steady production out of California, prices saying steady as well.

John Burkett:
 Coming strong out of Mexico and California. Big crops, quality and prices vary.
Melons:  Melons coming out of the California Desert now, moving closer to Bakersfield. Mostly XL or Large, great fruit and quality.
Watermelons:  Mexico Watermelons all wrapped up, California starting slowly, prices high.
Lemon/Lime:  Lemons shorting in California, starting out of Chile (2-3 weeks out). Pricing still high.
Limes steady quantity with great quality, small summer variety  – good pricing.
Haas Avocados:  California winding down very soon, Peru and Mexico Avos still going strong. Quality getting better.
Corn: Just starting out of California – pricing still a bit high.
Tomatoes:  Grape tomatoes from Mexico winding down. Baja California underway now.
Plain Jane greenhouse tomatoes from Mexico – great quality. Roma tomatoes from Baja California, coming in with good quality, high prices.
Bell Peppers:  Bells are very tight right now. California bells not ready yet.
Prices firm to high on Red bell peppers from Mexico.  Gold bell peppers have the best quality.

Blended Burgers, all the rage!

Blended burger, what is that you ask?
First, take Monterey Mushroom's delicious and nutritious, white mushrooms. WCPI mushroom buyer, Jerud Manfre, says that the perfect mushrooms for blending are those picked at the end of their peak, mature and full of flavor. Slice those babies up and add into ground beef, turkey, buffalo....or any choice of meat you prefer. Aim for at least 25% mushrooms in your blend, or keep it simple and do a 50/50 ratio. Grill them up and there you have it! All the burger flavor with the added benefit and nutritional value of mushrooms.

Two of our customers in Santa Cruz are jumping on the Blended Burger craze as well.

Betty Burger's on 41st Ave in Santa Cruz and Rosie McCann's in downtown Santa Cruz are both taking part in the second annual James Beard Foundation Blended Burger Project.

From the James Beard Website:

This summer, as part of the JBF Blended Burger Project(TM), restaurants nationwide will be featuring "blended burgers" made by combining finely chopped mushrooms with meat, creating a burger that's tastier, healthier, and more sustainable. Vote for your favorite "blended burger" below based on most creative use of mushrooms, best flavor profile, and most appetizing appearance!

The 5 chef creators of the blended burgers that receive the most votes will win a trip to New York City to be featured at an event at the James Beard House in January 2018.

Voting begins May 29th at 12:00am ET and concludes at 11:59pm ET on July 31st.

You can vote once a day for your favorite blended burger here.
We hope you'll visit and cast your vote for Betty's or Rosie McCann's!


Saying Goodbye to Jason Petersen

Jason Petersen started out at Watsonville Coast Produce when he was in High School, washing delivery trucks and doing odd jobs.

Jason proved to be a great employee, starting from the bottom and moving up through the ranks at WCPI. Eventually he became one of our top buyers and had a successful career spanning over 27 years.

This past month, Jason and his wife moved out of state to embark on a new chapter. We will miss Jason very much, but wish he and his wife the best of luck.

Jason, thank you for your dedication and hard work over the years! You will always be a part of the Watsonville Coast Produce family.



Weather and crop update

The previous month's adversely unstable weather conditions in the Yuma growing region, is still causing quality and supply problems.  The unusual weather has created industry wide supply shortages on multiple items including: broccoli, cauliflower, cilantro, and romaine hearts.

In Salinas, the extremely wet and cold weather has impacted the planting season, January/February.  Growers are attempting to bring product forward as much as possible to mitigate the potential supply gap, but this has been extremely challenging with temperatures ranging from the mid 50's to the low 60's.  This is compounded by January and February being the wettest months on record. 

In the next 5 weeks, we will be seeing shortages on both conventional and organic product, including: spring mix, baby spinach, wild arugula, baby kale, strawberries, retail salads, all leaf lettuce (red, green, romaine) and romaine hearts.

Please plan ahead for this situation.  This will have an impact on price.

More rain in the forecast for Tuesday 3/2, Wednesday 3/22, and Thursday 3/23 in the Salinas Valley.