Produce companies see surplus of fresh food because of COVID-19 closures

Produce companies see surplus of fresh food during COVID-19 pandemic

TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - It might be the peak part of the produce season in Nogales, but a lot of warehouses are seeing a surplus of stock due to COVID-19.

Inside TruFresh, they're seeing several things stick around.

“The hardest to move have been cucumbers because that’s a big food service item you use it for salads and whatnot and melons. Honeydews melons, cantaloupes,” said TruFresh Sales Manager Kiki Peraza.

TruFresh missed out on big businesses during the days leading up to Easter when they rely on big brunches and family gatherings to get their stock sold.

“I would say retail is down 55 to 56 percent, food service I’ve heard is down as much as 95 percent," Peraza said.

They’re hoping that there’s not a lot in the pipeline right now and looking for certain windows to get things sold while other parts of the country are lagging.

“Offshore cantaloupes from other countries like Guatemala and Honduras are seeing volume slow down,” Peraza said. “That should help our season here. Domestic cantaloupes out of Coachella (California) are running a little bit behind, watermelons in Texas are starting to wind down as well. So we’re waiting and banking on those little windows to keep us moving.”

Another plus is that they’re farmer-owned, meaning they can keep some supply in Sonora if needed. But even that option can still backfire.

"The big concern is at any moment the national market in Mexico can come to a complete stop and that’s when it can hit us a little stronger,” she said.

For now, they’re looking toward the future, hoping that, as the country slowly opens up, people get back outside and get businesses flowing.

"People want to go out to parks and they want to go out to the beach and they’re going to take their fruit cups and they want to eat their watermelon. So we’re kind of banking on all of that.”

So that the physical fruit of their labor doesn’t sit and spoil.

“If the lockdown continues and gets extended through May, as they say, we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it. There really isn’t a plan it’s something that we’ve never seen and obviously we’re all in the same boat," Peraza said.

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