Mexico’s Big Freeze – 80-100% of Crops Damaged, Expect Shortages and Higher Prices
I received an email from a reader regarding Mexico’s freeze damage over the last few weeks. In summary, large-scale producers of foods, such as Sysco, have sent out emails to major vendors explaining that there might be shortages of row crop foods due to freezing temperatures that hit Mexico. It goes on to say that Florida is normally the ‘Plan B’ as they grow many of the same varieties, but they’ve been hit hard by freezes as well and have lost most of their orange orchards.
It also details that expected shortages could be counted on 30-60 days from now and that Mexican farmers are still unsure of their next step – do they they try and quickly replant, hoping for a late March-April yield? Or disc the fields and wait? Other information coming in states that many of these crops have doubled, tripled or even quadrupled in price. For example, a carton of tomatoes went from $6.95 all the way up to $22.95 in one week. And that’s just one example!
This WILL affect your food cost and supply. If you’re not going to your local farmer’s market, now is the time to make friends and learn about it! This is also the time to start understanding how to grow your own foods and operate a personal garden.
Here is the .pdf from Sysco explaining the “Big Freeze” and offering little optimism – Sysco Mexico Freeze
Another article regarding this crop failure and freeze can be found here – via ‘ThePacker.com’ – a major food production newsletter.
It reads, in part:
Damage to Mexican bell peppers and other vegetable crops was severe following an early February freeze.
Prior to Feb. 4, southern Sinaloa had not suffered a real freeze since 1957, said Jerry Wagner, sales and marketing director for Nogales, Ariz.-based Farmer’s Best International LLC.
The results in the short term, and the mid- to long term for some crops, are devastating.
“The end of February and first half of March, there will be even worse shortages of product” than in the first half of February, Wagner said.
The Fresh Produce Association of the Americas, however, said damage wasn’t widescale, due to “microclimates” that protected some areas while destroying other fields. Some items will have “steady but reduced” volumes for up to 8 weeks, according to the association, Nogales.
“Contrary to some early prognostications, we expect to see steady supplies of key items like tomatoes, bell peppers and melons throughout the season,” said FPAA president Lance Jungmeyer in a news release.
Heavily damaged vine-ripe tomato plants, for instance, won’t be bearing new fruit until late March, Wagner said. Even then, volumes are a big question mark.
“Future volume has been greatly affected, and even on plants that presently look sound, they’ll have to start from scratch trying to make flowers,” he said.
Similar losses were expected on romas and grape tomatoes, Wagner said.
On Feb. 8, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported prices of $22.95-24.95 for two-layer cartons of 4×4, 5×5 and 5×6 vine-ripe field-grown tomatoes from Mexico, up from $6.95-9.95 the week before and $5.95-7.95 the year before.
Short- and longer-term problems are expected on bell peppers, said Wagner and Mike Aiton, marketing director for Coachella, Calif.-based Prime Time International LLC.
The short-term problems are reflected in green bell prices, which jumped $30 a box from Feb. 2 to Feb. 9, Aiton said. The prices of colored bells shot up 50% in that same period, he said.
Aiton did not expect prices to go much higher, however, before stabilizing.
Longer term, plants that suffered flower damage won’t produce again until the end of March, Aiton said. Severe shortages on green bells are likely until Prime Time begins shipping from California in April, he said.
“We’re in for a long, tough haul,” Aiton said.
Regarding cucumbers, if 20% of the crop in the ground at the time of the freeze survives, “it will be a miracle,” Wagner said.
Green, grey and yellow squash crops, meanwhile, suffered perhaps the worst damage of all, Wagner said.
“Some plants will come back but the vast majority is lost,” he said. “New acreage will begin in a very light way at the end of February, first of March, but we’re really looking at the 10th of March until we see any real relief.”