Imperial Frozen Foods President Skolnick Analyzes Cold Storage Fruit Holdings in USA

Peter Skolnick, president of Monterey, California-headquartered Imperial Frozen Foods, recently forwarded the July 31, 2012-July 31, 2013 cold storage report from the USDA to for review. “Simply put, it is useful for spotting changes,” he said.

Here are the highlights:

California Strawberries: Strawberries have always been considered the bellwether of the fruit business.  Total strawberry holdings are higher in 2013 than 2012 by 9%.  IQF strawberry holdings are also higher than in 2012.  That doesn't really add up, since receipts in 2013 California strawberry production is almost 10% lower than 2012. 

Cultivated Blueberries: Blueberry holdings are up 12% versus 2012. The blueberry harvest continued into August as it usually does, so things could change once crop figures are in.  Blueberry supply is certainly adequate, but what remains to be seen is whether it is abundant.

Raspberries: Red raspberry holdings show an increase for July 31, 2013 on IQF red raspberries with a decrease in total raspberry volume.  The growers got lucky and were able to divert volume to IQF tunnels, which shows them excellent prices.  It is possible that IQF raspberry pricing has "bubbled" and the market is vulnerable to downward pressure.  That remains to be seen and will depend on the winter's supply of red raspberries from Chile.

Blackberries: Total blackberry holdings as of July 31, 2013 are nearly identical to those recorded on July 313, 2012.  What is notable in 2013 is the decrease in IQF blackberries vs. 2012.  Northwest blackberries were being harvested in September with good weather conditions, which usually mean increased IQF production.

Peaches: Peach holdings are virtually the same as of July 31, 2013 as they were on that date in 2012. That is not good because peaches were very short in 2012. The problem is acute because there are very few alternatives to California for peaches, either offshore or domestically.

Picture: Peter Skolnick, president of Imperial Frozen Foods.