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Summer Bounty
bakemag.com, July 26, 2012
by Staff

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Relief is in sight for summer fruit prices, which is positive news for bakers. The Consumer Price Index for fresh fruit in January and February 2012 fell below the CPI reported for those same months in 2011, reversing the trend of higher CPI since April last year.

Smaller crops of Washington apples, as well as California oranges and lemons, contributed to grower price gains in early 2012. Yet larger supplies of pears, strawberries, and grapefruit are driving down prices for those fruits.

Strawberries

Strawberry retail prices are showing the largest declines from a year ago. Retailers have had plenty of strawberries to promote this past winter, given the larger supplies moving in the market thus far from Florida, California and Mexico compared to last year. While Florida shipments ended in March, those from Mexico are winding down. Harvest in California, meanwhile, is fully underway, bringing in heavy volume to retailers.

With larger overall domestic supplies, 2012 strawberry prices are averaging lower than year-ago levels. US fresh strawberry grower prices declined 13% in February to $1.09 per 12-oz dry pint. Prices at retail level also averaged lower as reported by the US Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics — down from $2.42 per 12-oz dry pint in February 2011 to $2.04 in February 2012.

With the anticipated increases in acreage in California and Florida and the assumption of average yields per acre unchanged from last year, ERS projects US strawberry production will be up 4% from a year ago in 2012, reaching 3 billion lbs. If realized, this year’s production will be the highest on record.

Apples

Historically producing more than half of US fresh-market apples, reduced production in the state of Washington likely has affected overall US fresh apple supplies, creating upward price pressure this season as the market continues to face strong demand. With the season more than halfway finished, supplies are waning, providing continued strength to grower prices.

Monthly grower prices for fresh apples in January and February 2012 averaged above the same period a year ago, as has been the case since August 2011 — the starting month for the 2011-12 US apple marketing season.

Lemons

With 2011-12 production down 7% from the previous season, California lemon shipments ran below year-ago levels in January and February, driving up fresh lemon prices for those months relative to the same time last year. As this season’s supplies diminish and demand increases with the onset of warmer weather, lemon prices are likely to strengthen seasonally through the next few months.

Oranges

USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service released its March citrus production forecast for the 2011-12 marketing year on March 9. The US citrus crop is forecast at 11.6 million tons, which is 1% less than the previous season. NASS forecast the 2011-12 orange crop at 9 million tons, a 2% increase from the previous season, with the largest year-to-year gains coming from Florida’s Valencia, early-to-mid-season, and navel orange crops.

formula ideas for Blueberries

Plump, delicious cultivated blueberries in any format make appealing, mouthwatering baked goods. Bakers can create fillings with fresh or frozen blueberries as well as dehydrated, canned and the juicy osmotically preserved. Blueberries add variety, interest and consumer appeal to formulas with nuts and mixed fruits. Blueberry fillings with high fruit content are appealing for pies, Danish and other baked products where fruit appearance is important. For information and bakers formulas,
visit www.wildblueberries.com.

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