For beginners and not so much, in fresh produce production and exports; it takes time to find tools that enable them to make better choices and learn as much as possible from the market. The internet has become an almost unlimited source of information, and it is no different for our sector. Next, I will share some websites which may be useful on a daily basis to you.
For tomato growers, I invite you to enter “Tomato Fax Report” in your browser (https://www.ams.usda.gov/mnreports/fvdtomf.pdf). You will get a daily source of prices in various points of sale and borders from cherry, Roma, round, greenhouse and grape tomatoes. It also provides points of sale in the US and Mexico, where tomato is being grown and how many “trucks” are entering the market per day, as well as comparisons with previous years. This is a practical and easy-to-read tool. You will be amazed with all the US states where tomato production is happening.
But of course, we cannot fail to mention USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS). This is a must-watch website. Here we will find information about produce, but also about milk, grains, cotton, tobacco, organics, among others. One of the most appealing sections of this website allows analyzing dozens of fruits and vegetables to learn their prices, volumes and points of entry. It allows you to filter some data and get information of up to 20 years ago (https://www.ams.usda.gov/mnreports/fvdtomf.pdf). This is a powerful tool for those who use information analysis for decision-making.
The prior websites are supported by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA). On the other hand, there is a financial company in the sector that is called ProducePay.com, which also provides information at no cost, about volumes and prices in practical manner. It also displays production zones and the weather in these. It surely uses the USDA information; however, it provides this information already filtered and in detail. It uses appealing and easy-to-understand charts.
It should be noted that prices provided by these platforms are, most of all, a guide for us to get an idea of the markets. These cannot be taken literally. Variables such as quality, labeling, source and commitments of sellers (agreements) may vary the prices reported by sellers.
Without a doubt, Produce Blue Book (PBB) is a very significant tool that should be taken into account when trading directly in the US. (https://www.producebluebook.com/). It has a database with thousands of distributors, buyers and supermarket members from the US and Canada. Members must pay a fee in order to be a part of this platform. It is basically a “Blue Book”, just as the one of cars, but for buyers.
First of all, if your buyer does not belong to BB, that is a reason for suspicion. Blue Book provides information from each buyer, when it comes to address, contacts, website, the products it markets, but also about financial strength and moral quality of the company. You can see beforehand if your buyer has little or a lot of financial support, and if it also has an average or good reputation. Based on this, you can make choices such as, for example, give credit or demand immediate payment. This tool has an annual cost, but it is definitely worth having it, especially if you are selling directly, with no intermediaries.
www.producemarketguide.com/fresh-trends is an interesting website. It belongs to the widely known publication ThePacker. It provides updated and no cost information on market and consumption trends of a variety of fruits and vegetables in the US, providing a perspective of each product, which enables to visualize strategies and opportunities to a middle and long term. For instance, tomato is the second most consumed produce in the US. 80% of the people older than 60 years old consume it. Similarly, 65% of consumers with no children buy it, against 55% of those who do have children. Hispanic consumers are the ones who buy tomato the most with a 76%, against 60% of Asians and 47% of African Americans. Who buys more, males or females? Practically the same, with a 60% of male consumers against 62% of female consumers. And just as there is information about tomato, you can explore trends on peppers, cucumbers, avocados and dozens of other fresh products.
Finally, in order to be informed about the daily information of the sector, the recommendations are publications from US media: thepacker.com, theproducenews.com, andnowuknow.com, freshplaza.com and infoagro.com, to name a few.
By: Georgius Gotsis – Veggies From Mexico CEO