Some Christmas favorites plentiful, others not

11/21/2012 11:16:00 AM
Andy Nelson

christmas 2012 artCourtesy Pamela RiemenschneiderSome holiday favorites will be plentiful this Christmas, but others could be in short supply.

Cranberries

The Cranberry Network LLC, Wisconsin Rapids, Wis., which markets fruit grown by Tomah, Wis.-based Habelman Bros. Co., expects to pack fresh-market cranberries through mid-December, said Bob Wilson, managing member.

“We’re in outstanding shape,” he said.

This season’s fruit is colorful, high-quality and has a larger size profile than last season, Wilson said.

Habelman Bros. has extended its season in recent years to guarantee fresh-market Christmas supplies, Wilson said. The company should have enough fresh product to fill in some gaps caused by shortages elsewhere, he said.

One of those gaps is in Massachusetts. Carver, Mass.-based Decas Cranberry Products’ crop was off by about 25% this season, said John Decas, board chairman. By the week of Nov. 19 the company had shipped the last of its fresh cranberries.

“It was a smaller crop, and the packouts were lighter than normal,” Decas said.

Industry trends also are moving away from abundant supplies of fresh cranberries at Christmas, Decas said. While newer varieties of cranberries yield better, their shelf life isn’t as long, making it harder to make fruit last until Christmas, he said.

In addition, more customers are buying sweet dried cranberries instead of fresh, he said.

On Nov. 20, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported prices of $33-34 for cartons of 24 12-ounce film bags of medium howes from Massachusetts, comparable to last year at the same time.

Clementines

Spanish clementine volumes are expected to be 25-30% lower than last season, said John Lazopoulos, Spanish and Moroccan import manager for DNE World Fruit Sales, Fort Pierce, Fla.

That should equate to strong demand in the run-up to Christmas, Lazopoulos said.

“We look to have a very good December,” he said. “We don’t see it weakening as in years past.”

Holiday promotional prices will likely be in the $4.40-4.75 range, Lazopoulos said. The bulk of DNE’s customers will promote in 5-pound boxes, though 3-pound bags also will be a popular option. Some customers will sell both, he said.

California has a big clementine crop this season, Lazopoulos said, but not big enough to meet high demand on the East Coast.

While volumes from Spain are down, quality is excellent and the size profile good, Lazopoulos said.

The USDA reported prices of $5-5.50 for 5-pound containers of clementines 15-24s from Spain, up from $4.75-5.25 last year.


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