December 14 – Strawberry Alert

Dear Valued Customers,

California has experienced substantial rain in early December. Salinas, Santa Maria, and Oxnard growers have all been affected. Additionally, Mexico saw some rain in the berry growing regions which has slowed down production as well. This has made a big impact on availability. Shortages are being reported from all harvesting areas. We are finally seeing a cooler and drier weather pattern in the Santa Maria and Oxnard area. This is helping the yields improve ever so slightly as we move into the weekend. Yuma supplies continue to be tight, but the overall field level yields seem to be improving and should continue to trend up through the end of the week. Florida saw substantial rain last week which was followed by cooler temperatures. This has diminished yields and negatively impacted  quality. Also worth mentioning about Florida strawberries, the seed varieties used for the early winter crops produce a fruit that is smaller and teardrop shaped. It is different from the large heart shaped fruit we are used to seeing from California.

In regards to quality, please bear with us. This fruit has been rained on for several days. Strawberries will be fair quality at best and prices will be significantly higher than normal. Although shippers are working through the fields and doing their best to pack only the best quality, they must manually handle each individual berry prior to it being placed in the clam shell. As a result of being rained on and water soaked, the berries are very sensitive to even the slightest touch. In most cases, the bruising appears after shipping and is not visible at the time of harvest. Order only what you need for day-to-day operations as shelf life will not be strong. Finally, December is traditionally the toughest month of the year for berries due to weather and shifting of crop locations. The overall situation will improve as we approach the New Year. Please consult your sales representative for further updates and thank you for your understanding.

Thank you.

Royal Food Service Team