Florida Strawberry Farmer: Input Costs to go up 30% Next Year

By Clint Thompson

A challenging year for Florida strawberry production is expected to worsen next season. Especially if the price of oil continues to spike amid the ongoing conflict in the Ukraine, growers are likely to experience extremely high input costs entering next year’s planting season.

“Anything that has to do with transportation is going up. If transportation goes up so does the cost of everything. Next year, I think we’re looking at least $10,000 (costs) going to New York City from Florida; $8,000 to $10,000,” said Matt Parke, farm manager of Parkesdale Farms in Plant City, Florida.

The American Farm Bureau Federation sent a letter to the Biden Administration last week, urging the president to increase domestic energy production. It would appease some of the financial pain growers are feeling at the pump.

Parke said expenses rose 20% more this year for supplies like diesel, paper products, plastic, fertilizer and chemical. Those costs could rise another 30% to 40% next year, though dealers are hesitant to quote specific prices given the volatile nature of the current supply chain.

“We’re looking at a 30% increase of costs before we start next year,” Parke said. “(Dealers) haven’t set it in stone yet. But they said look for a 30% increase. They don’t want to tell us any prices on any material until we get closer. It could be upwards of 40%.

“This year with the increases in costs, I have about $9 in a box. I don’t want to pick for less than $10, honestly. When the market gets that low, too, they don’t need your berries. You have receiving issues on the other end. When you’re getting down to anything less than what your costs is, hoping for the money to come back, you’re walking a tight line. You might start dealing with rejections. It doesn’t take much to put you backwards.”