Winter storm damages could lead to produce shortages

Out of more than 40 vegetable crops grown in the Rio Grande Valley in the McAllen, TX, freight market, only three are hopeful to survive, according to Tom Karst from The Packer: onions, cabbages and potatoes.

The blast of cold air from Winter Storms Uri and Viola has resulted in an estimated 55% loss in the current grapefruit crop. Leafy vegetables such as kale and other greens were completely wiped out by the freeze. Cabbage fared a little better, but growers expect that because Texas cabbage production represents about 30% of the total U.S. cabbage supply for February, a shortage could be leading up to peak demand on St. Patrick’s Day.

The freezing temperatures also caused damage to more than 95% of the Valencia orange crop, and although Texas citrus shippers had good inventories of fruit in their storages, lack of power to packing sheds may delay shipments of fruit.

Find reefer loads and trucks on the largest on-demand freight marketplace in North America.

Reefer load post volumes increased by 10% week over week in the top 10 spot markets last week. Similar to the dry van sector, out-of-balance carrier networks resulted in tight capacity driving up spot rates by $0.16/mile on average.

The only exception was in Elizabeth, NJ, where capacity loosened slightly and rates dropped by $0.07/mile to $2.41/mile, even though outbound load post volumes had increased by 22% w/w.

Capacity continues to tighten in Twin Falls, ID, following a 13% w/w increase in volume. Rates increased for the third week in a row, jumping by $0.31/mile to $2.77/mile last week. Volumes in this region are up 38% w/w and almost double from two weeks ago. Growers reported a shortage for trucks to haul apples, pears, onions and potatoes last week, according to the USDA.

A similar shortage of trucks was reported in Yuma, AZ, where the Winter Salad Bowl produces around 95% of our winter leafy greens. Lettuce volumes are down 16% y/y, as the winter crop season winds down.

In nearby Imperial and Coachella Valleys, a shortage of trucks was reported for loads of lettuce, broccoli and cauliflower — spot rates in Fresno, CA, jumped $0.16/mile last week to $2.53/mile and in neighboring Ontario, CA, reefer rates also increased by $0.13/mile to $3.00/mile.