January 11, 2018

Straight Talk: Weeks 2, 3, 4

Supply Forecast: January 8th – 27th 

Gyms are packed with determined new faces, eagerly sweating off their holiday over indulgence.  Bakery departments are quiet, sharply contrasted by overflowing shopping carts battling for position in the produce section.  Resolutions firmly in mind, consumer purchases migrate from sugar laced decadence, to the healthier alternatives of fresh produce.

The typical spike in demand that accompanies each New Year has been hampered by the recent “bomb cyclone” that has sent temperatures to record lows for much of the east coast.  Loading the kids up for a trip to the local marketplace becomes low priority when faced with dangerous travel conditions that go along with such an extreme weather event.  Freight delays are also to be expected when facing these road conditions.  For Florida growers, Hurricane Irma had already created several delays to this seasons initial plantings.  Now, freezing temperatures and storm damage in the region have raised concerns remaining production.

Transportation shortages will be a central theme of 2018:

– The Electronic Logging Device (ELD) mandate that went into effect for freight suppliers on December 18th has exacerbated an already tight freight market.

– Delivery times are being rescheduled, capacity is tightening, and confusion is growing.

– The industry is still waiting to see how the mandate will really impact capacity, rates, productivity, and, of course, the growing truck driver shortage.

– Record high load-to-truck ratios have sent freight rates soaring, in some cases more than double the average rates.

– As the east coast begins to thaw, demand for fresh vegetables will continue to climb, which will only make things more difficult.

Yuma has experienced its own set of weather inconsistencies.  The early production window experienced a significant industry oversupply as warm growing conditions in the Sonoran Desert Valleys pulled production forward into early harvests for most commodities.  The repercussions of premature harvest are likely to result in major shortages through the remainder of the desert season. A brief winter chill during the holidays slowed production and reduced yields as well.  Any additional periods of oversupply will likely translate to harvest estimates that are significantly under budgeted levels for the tail end of the desert growing deal.  With volatility in prices and supplies across all commodities an inevitability, active communication and collaboration between grower/shippers and customers are the keys to successfully managing consumer expectations.

Did You Know?

Tanimura & Antle farm, harvest, and cooler employees are all trained on food safety. 

All farm, harvest and cooler employees at Tanimura & Antle are trained at least once in a year on food safety. Food Safety topics include GMP (Good Manufacturing Practices), personal hygiene, hand washing after use of rest rooms and breaks. The workers wear clean clothes, gloves and hair restraints while harvesting and working in cooler. No worker with any illness or infection, contagious disease, or open injury is allowed to work with or near products. Workers are not allowed to wear jewelry or any objects that may fall into the product. Once a month, all harvest crews are audited by a Tanimura & Antle internal food safety auditor to make sure that food safety practices are followed. This helps Tanimura & Antle to maintain its food safety culture.

Our Community of People:

Mark Stover, Director of Yuma & Imperial Valley Farm Operations

Known for his undying enthusiasm, energy, and positivity, Mark Stover is one of Tanimura & Antle’s most well rounded employee owners. After attending Arizona Western College (Ag Business) and sailing around the world while serving in the United States Navy, Stover started with the company in 1985. Throughout the years he has held various positions with Tanimura & Antle ranging from Transplanting Manager, traveling Pest Control Advisor, Spring Mix & Spinach Harvest Manager, Grower and now his current role as Director of Yuma & Imperial Valley Farm Operations.

In this role, he manages 13,000 acres, 7 growers and over 12,500,000 cartons for Tanimura & Antle’s winter production. The acreage he manages stretches 120 miles across 2 states and 8 different desert growing microclimate regions.

“Mark is a special guy. He’s been a grower and has a deep knowledge about farming which makes it easy for him to relate with our desert growers. He is very detail oriented and knows the history of every block we grow on during our desert season,” said Chief Ag Officer, Steve Bassi. “He maintains an excellent relationship with all of our growers in the Yuma and Imperials Valley and is truly a fantastic asset.”

Mark has two sons in the industry, one of whom isCalvin Stover, our Director of Seed Procurement. And, who can match his dedication to daily fitness starting each morning in the gym at 4:00 am?!