A spike in gas prices in Mexico seems to be putting some pressure on produce being imported over the U.S. border. “They raised the gas price in Mexico up 20 cents a gallon, so a lot of people are protesting and trying to block the streets and it’s causing product not to cross fast enough,” says Brent Batali of Fallbrook, CA-based Batali Ranch, Inc, noting the increase first struck on January 2nd. “The question is: are people just panicking about it? There are a lot of trucks that didn’t cross but the roads aren’t completely blocked like when they’re on strike. People are just trying to block traffic and it’s causing some delays out there for sure.”
Tough pepper market
The shipping problem seems to be adding to an already struggling bell pepper market. “It’s been a weird year—demand hasn’t been very high for anything this year and there are plenty of bell peppers out there,” says Batali. “And with red bells for example, there are too many of them. Last year with the rains and everything else, everyone spent so much money on these items that most of the growers all planted them and there haven’t been any weather issues at all. So every area has grown every commodity out there, red bells included.” That said, just late last week Batali says he noticed a bit of a pick up in the market.
Bad weather welcome?
“I hope it changes because something’s got to give,” says Batali. “Either the growers have to stop bringing them up or there’s got to be a weather phenomenon. Everyone’s waiting for bad weather and it’s not happening. Maybe demand will pick up but I think more growers will start disking everything up. We can’t keep going like this. It’s just too cheap.”