Produce Pets's Q & A
So Richard wants to know why fruits and vegetables are so more expensive this year and why they go up so much each year, well my answer is not just one – but a multitude of a lot of reasons.
The first and foremost is transportation. We have all been to a gas station lately and should know the answer. Fuel has gone up and insurance and road taxes have sky-rocketed for most truckers. So lets break down this first part because it’s summer. Let’s talk about the summer fruits and their rates. Trucks out of California are around $10,000 on average, so let’s talk about a few.
Cantaloupes -cost anywhere between 85˘ to $1.05 each- freight only
Honeydews - cost anywhere between $1.75 to $1.40 each - freight only
Strawberries -cost anywhere between 45˘ to 90˘ each-freight only
Watermelons - cost anywhere between $2.00 to $3.50 each- freight only
Peaches & Nectarines - cost anywhere between – about 40˘pound - freight only
Broccoli- cost anywhere between 85˘bunch-freight only
Lettuce- cost anywhere between 60˘ to 85˘ head- freight only
Now that’s freight only, let’s consider the box it comes in, the farmer’s expenses to grow it and make a profit, the store that sells it. So we look at the prices, and say boy they are high but are they really!
Next we have supply and demand equals price; which means the bigger the supply the cheaper it is.
When a produce item is in season, and there are none or little weather conditions that affect them, they need to be sold!! No matter what the cost, because they are highly perishable. I’ve always told you, if the price is inexpensive it usually means the quality is good. Now if weather has come into the picture and hurt the product and the yield is down a lot, demand comes into the mix, so the price of the product goes up and the quality is not as good. This is hard to believe for most Americans. We believe that the more we pay for something the better it is, “NOT IN PRODUCE.”
When you see produce reasonable in your supermarkets or green grocers, usually the market is making money, when you see it expensive, the market usually is not making their margins, another thing most of us not in the business can’t believe. Right now in this day and age there are more items in the produce aisle that cost more for transportation than it does to grow and market. One way to beat some of this is buy local, buy fresh. This takes some of the transportation cost out of the equation and gives you a much better product.
Now some of you won’t believe this but a lot of times fruits and vegetables are sold for a loss, why, well if you don’t move it to the customer, the next stop is the garbage can, produce is highly perishable and has to be moved. When you think of the price increase produce has gone up the least of any commodity, why because if you don’t move it, it goes bad!
I remember selling fruits and vegetables from my parents store, in the 50’s, and the prices seemed cheap, but how cheap, gas was 19˘ a gallon now $3.80 a gallon – 20 times higher, a cake was $2.00 not $14.00 that’s 7 times higher, a bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich was 50˘ now $5.00 to $6.00 12 times higher, a cup of coffee 15˘ - Starbucks $5.00, 30 times higher, and a car $2,000 – not $35,000 plus.
Lettuce then was 25˘ head
Apples then were 25˘ lb.
Bananas then were 15˘ lb.
Most produce prices on average have gone up 3 to 4 times what they were in the 50’s compared to double digits plus for other products, so as you can see the price of produce has been a friend to the economy, this will never change, produce is not grown in a bubble, most of it is grown outdoors with exception of the new hydroponic greenhouses.
So when you are at your green grocer or your neighborhood supermarket, think about what it takes for you to get fresh produce to you and how healthy it is for you and how it’s really not all that expensive for what you get out of it.
Eat your veggies!!
Other recipes from Produce Pete.