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UPDATE: Limited Availability for Asparagus

Dec 28

Due to several uncontrollable circumstances, current availability for asparagus is severely reduced. The growing region in Mexico is in transition, and in combination with the limited product coming from Peru, the effects are being felt worldwide.

Given that Mexico’s season for growing asparagus spans from December to April, we are still in the early stages and crops remain juvenile. This limits their production during the high demand time, while the remaining global supply is limited.

Though we are still able to obtain asparagus at Royal, our orders are having to be prorated, and prices will increase over the weekend. We ask you to please be flexible on specs and sizing and to prepare for further potential shortages. We will do all in our power to minimize the day-to-day effects you see, but your understanding during this critical time is appreciated.

We will update you with new information as it becomes available. In the meantime, you can find real-time updates on our social media outlets and our website. Feel free to check in anytime with a call to our helpful Customer Service team at 404-366-4299.

Update: High Prices on Avocados and Tomatoes

Dec 8

Once again, prices are up sharply on avocados, in part due to shortages caused by out-of-control fires destroying much of the acreage in Ventura County. The county's avocado producing areas represent about one third of total production from California. One avocado farmer stated that he had never seen this level of fire damage to acreage in his 20-year career. Mexican growers recently began to capitalize on the situation by causing trade disputes until higher prices are offered. The disputes between growers and shippers are not fully resolved and further shut-downs could still occur. Current supplies are tight and looking light going into next week. Prices are very high this week on all 48 count and 60 count avocados.

As we mentioned on Wednesday, there is a shortage of Tomatoes across North America with expectation for relief to occur the week of Christmas.

Florida is the largest producing area for tomatoes at this time of the year and, normally, tomatoes are plentiful. Florida usually starts harvesting in the central and southern growing regions but supplies are extremely limited due to the effects of Hurricane Irma in September. The category 4 storm decimated many of the plantings in these areas that would typically begin to harvest at this time. Additionally, the smaller tropical storms that followed soon after delayed many of the recovery efforts to get more plants in the ground. Drastically reduced yields will be the norm for the remainder of December along with very high FOB pricing. The recovery won't be felt until the seedlings that were planted after the storms are ready for harvest and that is projected to be early January.

The rise in prices will continue to accelerate sharply through the end of this month. All suppliers are looking for alternative growing regions such as Mexico and California to help offset the shortage, but with such a huge gap to fill, there simply is not enough product to satisfy the demand. We ask you to please be flexible on specs and sizing and to prepare for sporadic shortages. We will do all in our power to minimize the day-to-day effects you see, but your understanding during this critical time is appreciated.

We will update you with new information as it becomes available.

Thank you, The Royal Food Service Family

Tomato Prices Expected to Hit Record Highs

Dec 6

Florida is the largest producing area for tomatoes at this time of the year and, normally, tomatoes are plentiful. Florida usually starts harvesting in the central and southern growing regions but supplies are extremely limited due to the effects of Hurricane Irma in September. The category 4 storm decimated many of the plantings in these areas that would typically begin to harvest at this time. Additionally, the smaller tropical storms that followed soon after delayed many of the recovery efforts to get more plants in the ground. Drastically reduced yields will be the norm for the remainder of December along with very high FOB pricing. The recovery won't be felt until the seedlings that were planted after the storms are ready for harvest and that is projected to be early January.

The rise in prices will continue to accelerate sharply through the end of this month. All suppliers are looking for alternative growing regions such as Mexico and California to help offset the shortage, but with such a huge gap to fill, there simply is not enough product to satisfy the demand. We ask you to please be flexible on specs and sizing and to prepare for sporadic shortages. We will do all in our power to minimize the day-to-day effects you see, but your understanding during this critical time is appreciated.

Thank you,
The Royal Food Service Family

Severe Tomato Shortage due to Storms, Heat, Humidity

Nov 03

Recent extreme weather has destroyed nearly all southeastern tomato crops, even those that survived Hurricane Irma. The loss has led to a severe shortage of round, Roma, grape and cherry tomatoes. West Coast crops are also nearly depleted due to extreme heat, which would otherwise compensate for East Coast shortages. Mexico has also lost crops due to heat and flooding. Not only tomatoes, but green beans and cauliflower have been severely affected by these conditions.

Most growers agree that we'll not see relief until December. Until then, we're expecting skyrocketing prices, fair quality, and short supplies. We recommend that you plan your menus according to these conditions and contact us if we can offer alternative products until conditions improve. 404.366.4199

Green Bean Shortage due to Extreme Weather and Disease

Oct 25

High temperatures and heavy rains in August have caused significant growth and quality issues along with Hurricane Irma knocking down crops. As Hurricane Nate finished up in the Northeast, three inches of rain affected the main seasonal growing regions from New York to Kentucky. As a result, most acreage is now suffering from disease as both temperatures and humidity have remained high and rendered the crops unusable. These East Coast conditions, coupled with a freeze and frost on West Coast crops have greatly curtailed supplies. Fortunately, we have ample supplies of French beans as a substitute until the green bean crops can recover, which we hope will be in about two weeks.

If you have questions, please directly contact your Royal Food Service sales representative.

Tropical Storm Irma Damages Georgia's Key Crops

Sep 15

Last week, Tropical Storm Irma was termed a "monster storm" as it cut a path northward from Valdosta to Atlanta, then drifted slowly toward Alabama. In any scenario, crops trampled by a monster would unlikely fare well! And so it is for Georgia's crops as growers try to assess the damage. With so many produce items currently struggling due to bad weather, we wish we had better news to share as prices on these items continue to rise.

Cucumbers - Of all produce commodities growing on the East Coast at this time, cucumbers suffer the most as Michigan's harvests wind down and nighttime temperatures drop causing plants to not produce well. Irma also caused a delay in Georgia's cucumbers scheduled to begin this week. While there is some production in Tennessee, it's not expected to fill the gap. Prices have risen to the mid-20s and are expected to remain high until Georgia production begins.

Yellow Squash & Zucchini - Due to weather damage, demand is very high and there's not enough supply to go around. Prices continue to rise and are expected to continue for the next couple of weeks.

On the brighter side, Georgia eggplant is expected to continue in good supply over the next few weeks. Quality has improved and prices are good. We think this could be the best deal around on East Coast vegetables. Potatoes are also sizing well and quality is reported as good. Onions are also reported as being in good supply and quality.

Farmers are in the fields now assessing damage and we will provide updated reports as they become available. Please contact your Royal Sales or Customer Service Representative if you can use alternative products while we endure these challenges. 404.366.4299

Severe Avocado Supply Shortage Revisited

Aug 11

The severity of the avocado supply and extreme markets continue. California has finished harvesting any significant volume for this year while Peru's volume drops weekly as the season there nears its end. This makes Mexico our main source of avocados. U.S. shippers are competing for Mexico's small summer crop that has resulted in a bidding war in the fields for the limited supply.

Our suppliers expect this shortage to continue over the next 4 to 6 weeks until Mexico's main crop reaches maturity. They have been in negotiations with growing partners to secure needed supplies to cover the demand. Prices are expected to remain very high despite adjustments made to smooth pricing out until the supply issues end.

Another factor compounding this situation has been a global consumption and demand that has far exceeded what would have traditionally been sufficient supplies for this time of year.

Sizing issues are also a challenge at this time. As a result, you can expect to see substitutions on avocados of all sizes.

We appreciate your understanding as we endure these challenges. We will continue to inform you of any new developments. Please contact your Royal sales or customer service representative if we can be of assistance. 404.366.4299

High Asparagus Prices due to Rain, Transition

Jul 21

We have seen a dramatic drop in volume and production on all sizes of Asparagus, making it very limited. Peru is still in transition with limited supplies, while Central Mexico is experiencing heavy rains and extremely limited production. Prices are approaching record highs and, until volume increases, the situation is not expected to improve. The best case scenario would be for supplies to increase in the next 7 to 10 days.

Potato Shortage and Storage Quality Issues

Jun 05

As we near the end of the stored potatoes, some quality issues may have become more apparent. These could include internal and external bruising, light heart hollow, external cuts, and, occasionally, soft rot. Expect these issues to continue until the stored crop is depleted, usually around the end of July. Our shippers have begun grading to a higher standard to reduce the number of defects from their packs.

Availability of 40-70 count Idaho potatoes is far below normal and orders with larger quantities of these sizes are requiring more time to pack. At this time, it looks like small Burbank potatoes will be the trend until stored potatoes are depleted. We expect a new crop of Idaho Norkotah potatoes to start the first week in August which should provide some relief on the 40-70 count potatoes. Washington and Nebraska should begin near the end of July followed by Colorado and Wisconsin in mid-August.

We recommend that you stay ahead on ordering 70 count and larger potatoes as orders could be pushed back and shipping times could be extended during this shortage.

We appreciate your patience as we work through these challenges. We will inform you of any new developments. If there are alternative products we can offer, please contact your Royal Sales or Customer Service representative at 404.366.4299.

Transition Delays, Flooding, and Yuma Heat Push Leafy Produce Prices Much Higher

Mar 17

Yuma, Arizona, a chief growing area for leafy greens this time of year, will be ending harvest ahead of schedule. Although excellent growing conditions existed during most of the winter season, it is now being hampered by high heat as they prepare to transition to Huron at the end of March and then to Salinas about 30 days later. Both Huron and Salinas have been dealing with their own challenges from recent heavy rain and flooding which is expected to delay transition and lower production estimates in those areas. Until then, leafy greens such as lettuce, green leaf, red leaf, romaine, romaine hearts, romaine filets, and green leaf filets will be in a very wide supply gap with further rising prices. When supplies are down, it's a good bet that quality is going to be poorer than usual.

Mexico's production has also been affected largely by extreme rain and heat which has lowered their supplies resulting in more pressure on Arizona and California. For a time, Florida and other East Coast growers were able to balance out the shortages out west. But with the recent cold weather blast in the east, many supplementary crops were destroyed. Shortages will be extreme on all leafy produce items for weeks to come.

Of particular concern is the romaine market which became extremely active this week, even though some increased activity was anticipated. Consequently, shippers are holding everyone to averages on those products. Iceberg lettuce is currently in good quality, but the heat and moisture is expected to lead to insects, discoloration, mildew and other defects. Lettuce leaf and similar items are already beginning to be plagued by blistering, epidermal peel, twisting, and fringe and tip burn.

Shippers will continue to harvest all the quality product they can from fields that normally produce several weeks longer before transitioning. This an industry-wide shortage and is expected to continue for at least the next five weeks or possibly until early June as some growers have speculated.

We appreciate your patience as we work through these challenges. We will inform you of any new developments. If there are alternative products we can offer, please contact your Royal Sales or Customer Service representative at 404.366.4299.