The pandemic created a ‘perfect storm’ for many fruit and vegetable producers, Texas A&M AgriLife experts say.
The specialty crop sector in Texas — consisting primarily of fruits and vegetables — has been one of the hardest hit sectors of agriculture due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to agricultural economists, industry groups and agricultural producers.
“Most fruits and vegetables are consumed when fresh and are highly perishable commodities,” said Joe Outlaw, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service agricultural economist and co-director of the Agricultural and Food Policy Center (AFPC), at Texas A&M University. “As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the closure of most restaurants and schools has caused a major reduction in demand for produce. The pandemic has also caused significant disruptions to the supply chain and agricultural systems.”
Outlaw said while some of that reduction in demand from restaurants and other food-service outlets has translated to higher demand at grocery stores, different packaging requirements, changes in volume needed, other factors are affecting fresh produce prices, mainly at the farmgate level.
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