Ag News: Dairy Sales Decline and Fresh Produce Sales Higher
**Sales of milk and dairy products to restaurants, schools and other institutions have declined rapidly during the COVID-19 pandemic, leaving dairy farmers with excess milk supplies.
Farmers are being asked to slow production, find alternative buyers and, in some cases, discard milk.
Farmers say the drop in demand comes at the "worst time," as warmer spring weather encourages cows to produce more.
**Fresh produce sales remain noticeably higher than the same time last year as the coronavirus crisis continues.
For the week ending April 5, dollar sales were 14.2% higher than the same week last year. The week of March 29, sales were up 8.1%.
Recent weeks mark some normalization of demand after produce sales saw jumps of 29.7% and 34.5% for two weeks in mid-March.
Joe Watson, vice president of membership and engagement for the Produce Marketing Association tells thepacker.com, the effect of canceled events, from March Madness to Easter celebrations, should also be taken into consideration.
**As one of the most consumed fresh vegetables, lettuce plays an important role in American diets, and researchers say increasing nutrients in lettuce could improve health without asking people to change their dietary habits.
At a Future of Lettuce Symposium, California scientists described progress in breeding lettuce higher in nutrients such as vitamin C, antioxidants and beta carotene, and lettuce that lasts longer after harvest.