Vegetables and Melons Outlook - June 2011

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Reflecting tight supplies, May shipments of fresh-market potatoes declined 9 percent from a year earlier—the first time since at least 1980 that May fresh shipments were less than 8 million hundredweight (cwt). In April and May, the monthly average price received by growers for all types of potatoes topped $11 per cwt. The last time the allpotato price hit double digits was in the summer of 2008. At $15.61 per cwt, the average U.S. price for fresh-market potatoes in April was up more than $1 from a month earlier and more than double last year’s $7.25 per cwt.

Spring (April-June) fresh-vegetable prices are expected to average about a tenth below the highs of a year earlier as supplies continue to recover from cool, wet weather. Although this weather slowed crop progress early in the growing season, more moderate weather in coming months would keep summer fresh-vegetable prices below the highs of a year ago, despite pressure from energy, transportation, and packaging material costs.

The 2011 U.S. processing tomato crop could reach 12.8 million tons, about the same as a year earlier. With a smaller world crop anticipated and improved demand, U.S. tomato product prices (which have not changed much in the past year) are likely to move higher in the coming marketing year.

Gary Lucier
Lewrene Glaser
USDA Economic Research Service