The global bell pepper market had been marked by weather challenges earlier in the season, causing lower availability and higher prices, particularly in European countries.
In Germany, the supply of bell peppers has now increased again, mainly from Spain, Turkey, and the Benelux countries, resulting in falling prices.
In Italy, despite the low profitability of bell pepper and the reduction of the areas for the 2022/23 season, the prices of peppers continue to be attractive and are in the range of 2.00 to 2.50 €/kg. In Spain, the pepper season is in its last stages in Almeria with lower volumes compared to the same period of last year and high prices.
Meanwhile, the Murcian peppers are showing good volumes and high quality and will remain in the markets until the beginning of August. In North America, the summer pepper production in California is uncertain due to recent weather challenges, while the bulk of the production is currently out of Mexico.
The demand for peppers is slow for this time of year, but it is expected to pick up next month when retailers move into summer pricing mode. Finally, the price of Mexican peppers in the US market increased in March due to the ongoing weather challenges in California
Netherlands: Later switch from Spanish to Dutch peppers
Over the next five weeks, Dutch peppers will get a forced start. “Due to some later planting, but also the terribly grey weather, the harvest of peppers will start later than we are used to in the Netherlands,” said a Dutch seller.
“Spanish peppers still dominate the retail landscape with their product. It is expected that the total switch from Spanish peppers to Dutch peppers will be made by around week 18.”
Germany: Bell pepper supply increases
Spanish deliveries of bell peppers to Germany increased again this week, and shipments from Turkey and the Benelux countries completed the supply. The latter have gradually expanded their market shares across all colors and were already convincing in terms of quality.
Prices fell again over the week, in some cases significantly. Only the bell peppers from Turkey were able to maintain their price level of the previous week due to demand, not least due to the upcoming Ramadan. In Frankfurt, the Turkish varieties of Kapia, Dolma, and Sivra in 400 g packs were well received.
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France: Red bell pepper market undersupplied
According to an operator, the French production of red bell pepper is very low this year, with an almost identical situation in Spain and the Netherlands. Faced with a large demand, the market price for peppers is very high.
But are these high prices related to this under-supply or because the French mass distribution seeks to have a varied and important range? The very strong demand for bell pepper could perhaps fall just after the Easter period.
Italy: Sicilian bell pepper area reduced
“In a context of general uncertainty, we have decided to reduce the areas for the 2022/23 pepper season,” explained a Sicilian producer.
“The low profitability of the bell pepper, moreover, discourages investments by farmers who, moreover, struggle with the field management of a crop subject to various phytosanitary problems, coupled with a chronic lack of labour and increases in the materials used in the field. Despite our cautious approach, not everything went as we had planned, following the heat wave in November/December,” he says.
“In the final two months of last year,” said the producer, “we had an early ripening of the peppers, the increased supply of which did not excessively unbalance the market, keeping the producer price at around 1.00-1.10 €/kg.
“Acceptable prices in January and February 2023 literally shot up to around 2.30-3.50, when the product was lacking not only in Italy but also in Spain. Demand exceeded supply and we could not meet demand as we would have liked, especially in February.
“There was also a shortage of Dutch peppers on the European markets there was also a shortage of Dutch peppers, which saw a reduction in light production in the winter cycle. At the moment, prices continue to be attractive and are in the range of 2.00 to 2.50 €/kg. The greenhouse product for the fresh market will end in June.”
In the varietal range, the following varieties emerge (type Lamuyo or 3/4): Frankone F1, Trionfo F1, Mecisteo F1, Maestoso F1 but also Sweet Palermo, and many others.
The GfK Consumer Panel data show that peppers are bought by 62% of Italian households and in the last 12 months – ending in January 2023 – buyers spent almost € 2.40 but bought 10% less.
Spain: Good prospects for Spanish bell pepper season
At the moment, the pepper season is in its last stages in Almeria with lower volumes compared to the same period last year and high prices. In general, it has been a good season for peppers in Almeria, with high average prices in the auctions, although the production costs remain high as well.
The first green peppers from the region of Murcia arrived on the markets three weeks ago and there is now the availability in all colours. Within two weeks, the Murcian peppers will start peaking.
So far prices remain at good levels, so growers and exporters have good prospects considering the smooth transition from Almeria to Murcia and the Dutch season, which apparently has more limited volumes at the early stages due to the high energy costs of the lighted greenhouses.
The Murcian peppers are showing good volumes and high quality and it should be noted growers have switched somewhat from short squared bell peppers to the traditional long ones, due to the good demand in the local market and the launch of new and more productive varieties. Murcian peppers will remain in the markets until the beginning of August.
China: Prices remain stable
China is one of the largest producers and consumers of bell peppers in the world. According to data from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, China produced about 37% of the world’s total bell pepper output in 2020, followed by Mexico and Turkey. The major bell pepper-producing regions in China include Shandong, Guangdong, and Sichuan provinces.
In recent years, the demand for high-quality and organic bell peppers has been growing in China, particularly in urban areas where consumers are willing to pay a premium for fresh and healthy produce. This trend has created opportunities for domestic and foreign companies to tap into the Chinese market with premium bell pepper products.
At the moment, in early spring, vegetable prices have been falling with the average vegetable prices in Beijing dropping by 4%. However, bell pepper prices have remained stable.
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North America: Concerns about weather cloud bell pepper season prospects
There are question marks approaching the summer for peppers. “Nobody’s certain what’s going to happen in California field production given the recent weather challenges,” says one Canadian grower shipper.
Currently, the bulk of pepper production is out of Mexico while Ontario, Canada is underway with production, and British Columbia, Canada will likely start this weekend. In addition, Florida also has field pepper production.
However, Mexico has also had some weather issues including cool temperatures which could mean production ends early this year. Right now, the overall availability of bell pepρers is about the same.
“You get a bit of a collision with Mexico ending their program and then Canada starting and the timing seems to shift every year,” says the grower-shipper.
As for demand, it’s slow for this time of year, which is not uncommon for this time of year. However, that’s anticipated to shift next month when retailers move into summer pricing mode.
“As the weather gets nicer, people start changing their eating habits a bit and certain product sectors will gain more traction. I expect the pepper deal will see some lift,” says the grower-shipper.
As for pricing, while there was strong pricing over the winter, it will likely move into tiered pricing in the coming weeks. “New crop out of Canada should see stronger pricing and then Mexico tends to get built up on inventory and then drops pricing a bit, which is what we’ve seen historically,” he says.
Mexico: Price of Mexican peppers on the US market increases in March
“California just can’t seem to get any rest from torrential rains, high winds and even record snowfall,” the USDA reported in the Weekly Seasonal Perishables Update it publishes under the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, corresponding to March 19-25, 2023.
“Once again, growers are battling another round of devastating storms that flood thousands of acres in the Salinas Valley. This is happening as California farmers prepared to start the spring growing season. This will have an economic impact on the US agricultural market,” the report noted.
In fact, “preliminary crop losses from the current storms run into the hundreds of millions of dollars.”
In this last period, imports of important fruits and vegetables in the US market have registered an increase, including peppers.
From Canada, the volumes of peppers have risen from 17,837 pounds to 112,407 between February 25 and March 18, which, although it represents a considerable increase, is still a far cry from the volumes sent by Mexico, which went from 38,506,011 pounds to 45,268,764.
The price of the vegetable has also experienced a notable increase in those 4 weeks in the US market, going from $14.45 for the 1 1/9 bushel carton format on February 25 to $26.59 on March 18.
The week after, discussed in the report, noted that “demand became very active in the middle of the week,” but available supplies from Mexico via Nogales, Arizona, “are very limited.”
Prices are much higher this week compared to the week before with jumbo and extra-large green bell pepρers seeing prices as high as $30.95 per box.
Regarding the supply of pepρers through Texas, prices were “flat” on the week, but the quality was “variable”. In this case, the extra-large pepρers moved in a price range of $26.95-28.95 per box.
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Australia: Higher value but lower volumes for Australian bell peppers
There was an eight per cent rise in the value of Australian capsicums (bell pepρers) to $211.8 million for the year ending June 2022, despite a 13 per cent reduction in volume to 71,383 tonnes, according to the latest stats from Hort Innovation’s Horticulture Statistics Handbook.
There was an increase of 9 per cent in volume for imports to 813 tonnes, while there was only a very marginal increase in export value over the same time to $1.5 million.
Production of capsicums in Australia occurs in three different types of farming systems; Conventional (67%), Glasshouse (22%) and Polyhouses & Tunnels (11%).
Consumption-wise, 64% of Australian households purchased capsicums, with a per capita consumption of 2.61kg. The price of consumption at the retail level in recent weeks was dependent on the variety; with red capsicums averaging around $7 per kilogram, green capsicums averaging around $9 per kilogram and yellow capsicums around $12 per kilogram.