The Eastern Broccoli Project is intended to supply some of the growth in broccoli consumption in the East. The bulk of supply comes from coastal California in the summer and the desert southwest in the winter. But now, imports from Mexico are playing a greater role.
When the project started in 2009, Mexico was not a significant supplier of fresh broccoli to the East. That has changed. The volume from Mexico to the US is over $200 million per year. The frozen market is almost entirely from Mexico and Central America.
Mexican imports primarily compete with winter production in Florida and Georgia. The volume in the winter months has been rising over the last five winters, more than the summer imports. Growers in those areas are also expressing concern about the effect of the USMCA trade deal, fearing that it would allow dumping in their market.
Eastern production is closer to the Northeast market than either Mexico or the desert, but it is significant. The distance to the terminal market in Bronx NY from Hastings, Florida is 1000 miles in 15h of driving. From San Luis Potosi, Mexico is 2400 miles in 36 hours, and from Yuma, Arizona is 2600 miles in 39 h.
There are some facilities to freeze broccoli in New York. Developing a frozen deal for New York growers would be needed for a customer like a school system that specified New York broccoli under the farm-to-school program, but needed ready-to use product in their kitchens during the school year. The frozen-food giant Bonduelle raises and freezes broccoli in Québec, so the economics can be made to work nearby.
Thanks to USDA-ERS economists Kamron Daugherty and Broderick Parr for compiling this important information.
The article show that wholesale buyers expect broccoli to look familiar. Local variants with slightly different color or flower-bud size were acceptable only to natural food reseller, not at standard supermarkets. The challenge for a new region is to meet standards that were developed for other production areas.
Eastern buyers are eager to source more Organic broccoli locally. Fortunately, broccoli is suited to Organic practices. Nevertheless, meeting that demand will require efficient production.
This webinar will cover management approaches for Organic production that help production efficiency. Prospective growers will come away with a better sense of how to achieve success, and current Organic broccoli growers are likely to pick up some useful ideas to increase their profitability.
Jeanine Davis, Margaret Bloomquist and Richard Boylan, North Carolina State University, experts on organic production systems
Thomas Björkman, Cornell University. Vegetable physiologist
Bryan Brown, NYS IPM. Weed management specialist and expert on organic weed management
Jill Eccleston, Cornell University, Integrated control of emerging insect pests
Organic nutrition for a nitrogen-hungry crop
Weed management in high fertility and short season
Insect management amid many hungry pests
Varieties suitable for organic production in the East
The market for organic broccoli
Join the webinar by clicking this link: https://cornell.zoom.us/j/855304241 on a computer, tablet or smartphone. To test your Zoom connection in advance, please visit https://zoom.us/test. It may take a minute or so to install the small software.
To get the audio only on a telephone, call +1 646 876 9923 and enter meeting id 855304241
Sponsored by the Eastern Broccoli Project (a multi-institutional project funded by USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Specialty Crop Research Initiative).
An individual grower may see price offers that seem inconsistent. While wholesale broccoli prices vary greatly among markets and with time, terminal market prices can provide a view into what is going on regionally.
The price has had a floor around $15 per box in recent years, with unpredictable spikes. Most eastern growers find $15 a break-even proposition and need a higher price to justify raising the crop. Selling continuously to catch the spikes is one way to obtain a higher average price.
In 2016, prices remained low throughout the year. It was a tough year to expand production. Fortunately, prices recovered in 2017.
As a graduate student in Applied Economics with Prof. Miguel Gómez at Cornell, she made big contributions to the project. First, studied seasonal effects on market efficiency of broccoli, finding that local production made the markets more efficient by reducing the likelihood of excess supply. Second, she
studied consumers’ willingness to pay for local broccoli in eastern markets finding that there is a price premium in markets where the “local” attribute is valued in general. Finally, she developed a model for finding the optimum location for cooling infrastructure that would serve multiple farms by optimizing the type of equipment to fit the scale of production, as well as the distance to farms and to markets.
Her work is the basis for current and forthcoming work with producers and food hubs. Some of that work will be done by our new team member, Carol Dong. Carol has been visiting growers and food hubs already to analyze systems and cost structures.
The wholesale produce trade that is present at the New York and London Produce Shows is keenly interested in the economic results coming out of the Eastern Broccoli Project. Prevor writes “[Gómez] has been a superstar in New York, informing, educating and beguiling industry members.”
Miguel will explore the dilemma faced by farmers who are serving their local consumers through farmers markets and CSAs.
The goal is to connect local food systems to the mainstream distribution system. Markets where consumers buy directly from farmers are very limited in terms of volume, availability, and in terms of sustained economic viability for the farmer, who lives only out of these markets.
Margins are very thin, and the markets are easily inundated with excess supply. So the markets are restricted on the amount of farmers that can participate in going direct to consumers.
The concept does not fit the normal narrative for either the farmers market community nor the supermarket community. Therefore, bringing change that benefits consumers, small farmers, and supermarkets will take transdisciplinary assistance of the kind we have been developing in the Eastern Broccoli Project.
Prof. Miguel Gómez, team member in the Dyson School of Applied economics is determining what qualities Eastern consumers look for in their broccoli, and what variation from the Western standard they accept. The results will inform the breeding process, and perhaps identify types that will be well accepted in the US East Coast that are not accepted in East Asia.
With graduate student Xiaoli Fan, he is running auctions of broccoli types to asses consumer’s relative willingness to pay for different appearances.
One goal of this project is to increase the availability of eastern-grown broccoli in eastern markets. But how does that broccoli get from the site of production to the point of purchase by consumers?
In a webinar available for viewing on the project website, economist Miguel Gómez discusses the history and evolution of the U.S. food distribution system, the organization and behavior of its three main channels, and the role of intermediaries in bringing food products from the farm to the American table.
Case studies explain how one retail chain has impacted the structure of the distribution system; why changes in product supply are not always reflected in retail prices; why sales of private label products are growing; and how Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs have increased opportunities for growers to market directly to consumers.
The presentation includes an exploration of trends in food expenditures and concludes with projections from industry executives on expected changes in retail food distribution.
To stream the webinar or view a pdf of the slides, visit the project reports page of the website and click on the appropriate link.
"Developing an Eastern Broccoli Industry through cultivar development, economically and environmentally sustainable production and delivery" is supported by the Specialty Crop Research Initiative of the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, under Award No. 2016-51181-25402.