Big California volume was contributing to low shipping point prices and strong promotion opportunities for California strawberries in mid-May.
May 17 shipping point prices for California strawberries in Santa Maria were trading mostly at $4-5 per cartons of 8 1-pound containers, down from $7 per carton the same day in 2017, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Market News Service.
May 17 shipping point prices for organic strawberries in Santa Maria in cartons of 8 1-pound containers were $7-8, the USDA said, down $10-12 per carton at the same time last year.
“It is too much volume right now,” said Duane Murakami, sales manager for Watsonville Berry Cooperative, Watsonville, Calif. “This is the worst I’ve seen it in a while.”
Due to the glut, he said May 18 some berries were being consigned. Some bigger growers have elected to pick to order in the morning and then switched to processing with afternoon harvest volume.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture reported total shipments of strawberries from all origins for the week of May 6 to May 12 totaled 77.9 million pounds, up 31% from 59.5 million pounds the same week a year ago.
California strawberry shipments accounted for nearly 99% of all commercial shipments, with light volume from Mexico and North Carolina.
California’s shipments of 76.8 million pounds the week of May 6-12 were up 31% compared with a year ago, when the state shipped 58.6 million cartons. California’s shipments of organic strawberries the week of May 6-12 totaled 6.2 million pounds, up 20% from 5.2 million pounds the same week a year ago.
The California Strawberry Commission reported that California fresh strawberry volume of 9.568 million trays the week of May 6-May 12 was up from a previous projection of 7 million trays for that week.
Through May 12, season-to-date shipments (conventional and organic) of California strawberries, according to the strawberry commission, totaled 55.01 million trays, down slightly from 56.7 million trays last year at the same time and 57.7 million two years ago.
With lower prices and seasonally strong volume, strawberries were a popular promotion item. The USDA said strawberries accounted for 18% of all U.S. retail fruit ads on May 11, the most of any single commodity. The USDA said one-pound packages of conventional strawberries were promoted in 17,675 stores on May 11 at an average price of $2.11, compared with 12,836 retail stores promoting at an average price of $2.50 on May 4.