Strawberry shortage affecting South Texas

Posted at 5:42 AM, Apr 05, 2018
and last updated 2018-04-05 06:42:40-04

If you love strawberries, you may have noticed prices were up the past couple of weeks. 

Cold, rainy weather in California and parts of Mexico are to blame for the price hike on strawberries nationwide. 

California grows nearly 90 percent of all strawberries produced in the U.S., and due to heavy rains and cold weather in California, many crops were destroyed. The produce business is always at the mercy of Mother Nature. 

"We can only hope, we can only order, we can only buy, and only pray, but at the end, if Mother Nature wants to be nasty, and California has been having a hard time, and a lot of our produce come from there. Between the mudslides, rain, and fires, it is a tough area. So we are all dependent on what happens out there a lot," said CC Produce sales manager David Kasperitis. 

During the past couple of weeks, grocery stores, restaurants, and produce companies had to scramble to find a way to restock strawberries. 

"We had to be selective. We had to cut some people short and couldn’t fulfill all orders of course, but we did the best we could. We had to find some different sources, different vendors, and different brokers out there. Our buyer worked hard and found what he needed to do, and we got the best we could," said Kasperitis. 

While this is a nationwide shortage, some businesses here in the Coastal Bend did  their customers a favor and took the hit for them. 

"What we pay when they are in season is usually $14-15 a flat, and now with the availability being hard to get, the prices have shot up to $37-$40 a flat, depending on where you are getting them from. We are just absorbing the cost. It is kind of like when the eggs go up or the meat goes up, we just absorb the cost," said Atomic Omelette and Grill owner Mike VanSyckle. 

"Because of the high demand and low volume, it went into the $30s, but we kept it right there, and we basically took a hit to get what our customers wanted," said Kasperitis. 

The strawberry situation is slowly starting to improve and should be back to normal soon. The South Texas area stores and produce companies are expected to be 100 percent restocked with strawberries as soon as this weekend.