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Early start, smooth transition seen for San Joaquin Valley grapes

The spring grape deals out of Sonora, Mexico, and California’s Coachella Valley both got off to an early start this year and are expected to finish earlier than usual for most varieties, but grape shippers anticipate a smooth transition from those districts into the San Joaquin Valley as the early vineyards in the San Joaquin are also ahead of schedule.

“At this point, it looks like we will be starting in the San Joaquin  Valley sometime the week of June 16,” said Kathleen Nave, president of the California Table Grape Commission. “Then we will be busy picking and packing probably into December, if the last two years are any indication, and shipping into February.”01-EarlySJV-CropThe 2014 California grape crop is forecast to total 116.5 million 19-pound boxes, which would edge out the previous record set in 2013. (Photo courtesy of the California Table Grape Commission)

One strength of the California table grape industry is “that it is such a long season,” said Nave. ”The fact that we started in Coachella Valley this year April 28 and will be picking grapes in California into December and shipping them into February is a tremendous strength in markets around the world.  So we need volume that begins in May and carries us all the way through that time period, because we have a lot of customers,” including retailers and foodservice operators around the world who want product on a consistent basis, and the more of that we can provide the better.”

For that reason, “it is critically important that we have fruit in the Coachella  Valley” in the spring “and that we have fruit in the San Joaquin Valley” early enough that there is “a seamless transition” from Coachella. That early San Joaquin Valley fruit carries from late spring into summer, “then that carries us into the fall, which carries us into the winter,” Nave said.

This year, “we are expecting that we will be picking fruit in the Coachella Valley into the end of June,” she said. “The San Joaquin Valley will start probably the third week” of June, and by the fourth week, “we should have a lot of people going in the San Joaquin Valley. That is a good transition from one valley to the other. But from my perspective, we have a California table grape crop, and that begins in May, and we ship the final boxes into February.”

The 2013 California fresh grape crop exceeded expectations and came in at a record 116.2 million 19-pound boxes. The 2014 crop is officially estimated at 116.5 million boxes, which, if realized, would just edge out last year’s record.

The earlier start to the California grape season this year is giving growers a longer time to market their crop, said John Harley, vice president of sales and marketing at Anthony Vineyards Inc. in Bakersfield, CA, which has grapes in the Coachella Valley as well as the San Joaquin Valley. “There is not a lot of pressure forcing movement, so the prices have been stable,” he said. “It has been good thus far, and I really do see that moving into the Arvin district as well.”

Several California shippers are also involved in the Sonora spring grape deal which roughly coincides, timing-wise, with the Coachella deal. Most Sonora grapes are grown in the Hermosillo area and the Caborca area. Hermosillo, the earlier of the two districts, is not only trending early this spring but is packing out lighter than anticipated. Caborca, the later district, appears to have a more normal sized crop. “We think that will have the effect,” at least on green grape varieties, of providing “steady supplies and a stable market. We think that will transition nicely,” said Shaun  Ricks, vice president of Eagle Eye Grape Guys LLC in Visalia, CA.

Caborca should continue picking through around June 15-20 on Sugraones, and Arvin, traditionally the earliest district in the San Joaquin Valley, will start about that same time. “We do not anticipate that there will be significant inventories of Sugraones out of Mexico, so that could be a very seamless transition,” Ricks said.

On red grapes, “because the Hermosillo district is lighter, it is not going to carry over a lot of fruit into June. Therefore, the [Mexican] Flame supplies for the month of June must all come from Caborca, and the demand will be greater than that. Therefore, we expect that the Flame market will increase in price every week as we go through the month of June.” That increase has already started and was noticeable as early as May 27, he said.

The Grape Guys anticipated its first Sugraones in Arvin close to June 16, with Flames starting around June 23, he said.

Ricks was confident that California grape producers would set another volume record this year and that within a few short years, volume would exceed 125 million boxes, with the shipping season continuing to extend. “We will, as an industry, be commonly shipping through January 15,” he said. Some years, the San Joaquin Valley may finish up earlier, but “that will be the exception.”

 Most years, “with the ability to cover the vineyards and the ability to pick and put in pick tubs and pack at a later time as needed, so that the fruit is as freshly packed as possible, are things that are going to allow us to go later than ever. If I were the Chileans and the Peruvians, I would take heed and not try to be early. I think there is still a place for them, but I think that place is beginning more in February, with maybe a trickle in January,” he said.

“We like where we are as an industry,” Ricks added. “I think we are in a good position. We just have to manage it and be good stewards and make sure that the product we are shipping out is suitable.”

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

Early start, smooth transition seen for San Joaquin Valley grapes

The spring grape deals out of Sonora, Mexico, and California’s Coachella Valley both got off to an early start this year and are expected to finish earlier than usual for most varieties, but grape shippers anticipate a smooth transition from those districts into the San Joaquin Valley as the early vineyards in the San Joaquin are also ahead of schedule.

“At this point, it looks like we will be starting in the San Joaquin  Valley sometime the week of June 16,” said Kathleen Nave, president of the California Table Grape Commission. “Then we will be busy picking and packing probably into December, if the last two years are any indication, and shipping into February.”01-EarlySJV-CropThe 2014 California grape crop is forecast to total 116.5 million 19-pound boxes, which would edge out the previous record set in 2013. (Photo courtesy of the California Table Grape Commission)

One strength of the California table grape industry is “that it is such a long season,” said Nave. ”The fact that we started in Coachella Valley this year April 28 and will be picking grapes in California into December and shipping them into February is a tremendous strength in markets around the world.  So we need volume that begins in May and carries us all the way through that time period, because we have a lot of customers,” including retailers and foodservice operators around the world who want product on a consistent basis, and the more of that we can provide the better.”

For that reason, “it is critically important that we have fruit in the Coachella  Valley” in the spring “and that we have fruit in the San Joaquin Valley” early enough that there is “a seamless transition” from Coachella. That early San Joaquin Valley fruit carries from late spring into summer, “then that carries us into the fall, which carries us into the winter,” Nave said.

This year, “we are expecting that we will be picking fruit in the Coachella Valley into the end of June,” she said. “The San Joaquin Valley will start probably the third week” of June, and by the fourth week, “we should have a lot of people going in the San Joaquin Valley. That is a good transition from one valley to the other. But from my perspective, we have a California table grape crop, and that begins in May, and we ship the final boxes into February.”

The 2013 California fresh grape crop exceeded expectations and came in at a record 116.2 million 19-pound boxes. The 2014 crop is officially estimated at 116.5 million boxes, which, if realized, would just edge out last year’s record.

The earlier start to the California grape season this year is giving growers a longer time to market their crop, said John Harley, vice president of sales and marketing at Anthony Vineyards Inc. in Bakersfield, CA, which has grapes in the Coachella Valley as well as the San Joaquin Valley. “There is not a lot of pressure forcing movement, so the prices have been stable,” he said. “It has been good thus far, and I really do see that moving into the Arvin district as well.”

Several California shippers are also involved in the Sonora spring grape deal which roughly coincides, timing-wise, with the Coachella deal. Most Sonora grapes are grown in the Hermosillo area and the Caborca area. Hermosillo, the earlier of the two districts, is not only trending early this spring but is packing out lighter than anticipated. Caborca, the later district, appears to have a more normal sized crop. “We think that will have the effect,” at least on green grape varieties, of providing “steady supplies and a stable market. We think that will transition nicely,” said Shaun  Ricks, vice president of Eagle Eye Grape Guys LLC in Visalia, CA.

Caborca should continue picking through around June 15-20 on Sugraones, and Arvin, traditionally the earliest district in the San Joaquin Valley, will start about that same time. “We do not anticipate that there will be significant inventories of Sugraones out of Mexico, so that could be a very seamless transition,” Ricks said.

On red grapes, “because the Hermosillo district is lighter, it is not going to carry over a lot of fruit into June. Therefore, the [Mexican] Flame supplies for the month of June must all come from Caborca, and the demand will be greater than that. Therefore, we expect that the Flame market will increase in price every week as we go through the month of June.” That increase has already started and was noticeable as early as May 27, he said.

The Grape Guys anticipated its first Sugraones in Arvin close to June 16, with Flames starting around June 23, he said.

Ricks was confident that California grape producers would set another volume record this year and that within a few short years, volume would exceed 125 million boxes, with the shipping season continuing to extend. “We will, as an industry, be commonly shipping through January 15,” he said. Some years, the San Joaquin Valley may finish up earlier, but “that will be the exception.”

 Most years, “with the ability to cover the vineyards and the ability to pick and put in pick tubs and pack at a later time as needed, so that the fruit is as freshly packed as possible, are things that are going to allow us to go later than ever. If I were the Chileans and the Peruvians, I would take heed and not try to be early. I think there is still a place for them, but I think that place is beginning more in February, with maybe a trickle in January,” he said.

“We like where we are as an industry,” Ricks added. “I think we are in a good position. We just have to manage it and be good stewards and make sure that the product we are shipping out is suitable.”

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

Safeway seen in need of help

Wall Street analysts said they are expecting big things from Safeway — but not until after its merger with Albertsons later this year. Most saw the company’s first-quarter results as disappointing. “Safeway’s merger with Albertsons may be an issue of strategic necessity,” Ajay Jain, an analyst with Cantor Fitzgerald, New York, said, “[and] Cerberus may have its work cut out. “Safeway’s operating margin of around 70 basis points in the first …

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Supermarket News

Little short-term impact seen from Safeway deal: Kroger CFO

Kroger Co. does not expect the synergies from the merger of Safeway and Albertsons to have much short-term impact once the deal is completed late this year, J. Michael Schlotman, Kroger CEO, told an investor audience Tuesday.

“There are a lot of things that happen in the [next] year that will help everybody understand exactly what the landscape is going to wind up being like,” he told the Bank of America Merrill Lynch Consumer and Retailer Conference in New York.


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“Sure, it will generate a lot of synergies, but there’s going to be a fair amount of interest expense to cover, so it remains to be seen how much net synergy dollars they have left to invest in competitive activities versus giving a return to the equity investors, along with the debt load they will carry, plus interest on the debt.”

In other comments:

•  Schlotman said adjusting shelf allocations to meet changing consumer needs often requires cooperation from teams in different departments of the store.

“In our produce departments, for example, we’ve determined the best way to run them is to actually have a little bit less produce on the floor, even when sales are strong, and to bring it up from the back cooler more regularly because it stays fresher in the back room. That winds up freeing up some refrigerated space in the produce department, and some stores are moving orange juice out of the dairy section into the produce section, which frees up incremental space for a category like yogurt, where we are under-allocated.

“Now one of the battles you encounter in moving orange juice, a grocery item, into produce, which has its own fresh-squeezed orange juice, is that you get people in a little bit of a turf war because the produce guy doesn’t want to give up space to the grocery guy. But when you explain that they have Kroger stock options, not produce stock options or grocery stock options, they get it pretty quickly.  So when everybody steps back, everybody realizes what’s good for the customer is good for us overall.”

•  Although the economic downturn has reduced the basket size on each trip,  Schlotman said the fact people shop more frequently means they end up spending more per month.

“Through our loyalty card program, we know our households are spending more with us on a monthly basis even though each trip is a little bit smaller. We probably would have done some silly things trying to reverse a trend that really wasn’t a trend that needed reversing because it was just a shift in shopping habits.

“Instead of doing a stock-up trip and putting things in the freezer, customers are stopping in for a couple or three days’ worth of fresh product, keeping it in the refrigerator and then using it closer to the purchase date.

•  Dunnhumby is in the background of all decisions, Schlotman said.  “They help us understand what the customer wants, whether it’s a pricing initiative in a certain part of the store or when we’re trying to upgrade our message with a few new pricing offerings as well. Dunnhumby helps us understand to what depth and breadth we need to make price investments and what price points drive the most optimal customer penetration in a category.

“You can go too low on some categories and you wind up investing in price that really doesn’t drive incremental operating profit dollars. Dunnhumby really helps us optimize every one of the programs.”

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Supermarket News

“Never seen such a bad Spanish citrus season”

Gert Bouman, Frutaria:
“Never seen such a bad Spanish citrus season”

Gert Bouman has been working for the Spanish private producer Frutaria for 25 years but he says he’s never seen such a bad citrus season as this one. “I don’t think there is one cause, there are multiple factors that influenced it. It hasn’t been cold yet and this affects the consumption. Spain also has a large production, there was a large supply from South Africa and there has been a lot of fruit available from Egypt, Morocco and Greece.”


The Dutchman doesn’t have much faith in a revival in the Spanish service. “Spring is coming. The best period for citrus consumption is already behind us. Customers have three times more supply available than they can sell. We are hardly selling within Europe at the moment and have looked for markets outside of Europe. That saved our season a little.” Gert does expect the result of this bad season to be incalculable. “We can’t invest in the future with the low payout prices. Then it stops and turns into re mediation.”

“I foresee a division between the quality fruit and the fruit that just isn’t. People will start looking for varieties to do better in the future. There is a lot more overlap of seasons and this means there is always a supply of citrus,” continues Gert. “You can’t blame one party for this situation. Whether it’s the producers, the supermarket, Egypt or Morocco. The fact is that there’s an oversupply. I believe that the European community has to protect itself from products from other continents. If not, the citrus culture in Spain is doomed.”

For more information:
Gert Bouman
Frutaria
T: (+34) 661 252 509
[email protected]
www.frutaria.com

Publication date: 3/5/2014


FreshPlaza.com

Morocco’s citrus shipments seen tripling to 1.3 million tons

Morocco’s citrus shipments seen tripling to 1.3 million tons

Morocco plans to more than triple its citrus fruit exports to 1.3 million metric tons by 2018 as a development program raises output, according to Ahmed Derrab, secretary general of industry group ASPAM.

Aging groves, narrowing margins from sales to the euro-zone area, increased competition from Egypt and Turkey and growing domestic demand eroded exports of products including oranges to key markets including the European Union, Derrab said. Morocco was the fourth-biggest provider of citrus fruit imports into the EU in the period from 2009 through 2012, according to Eurostat data.

In the 1998-2011 period, Morocco’s total citrus exports averaged 528,000 tons a year, according to finance and economy ministry data. In the period that started in October and ends this month, exports fell to 380,000 tons, Derrab said.

“It is one of the lowest export figures we had in 40 years,” Derrab said. “But things will change fast enough for our exports to increase as of next year and continue gradually to reach 1.3 million tons by end-2018.”

The EU, which Derrab said offers the highest margins for Moroccan citrus, accounts for 30 percent of its exports while Russia takes 50 percent, with the remainder going mainly to the US, Canada and Saudi Arabia.

“We went to Russia because it was easy to penetrate as a market,” Derrab said. “But it’s not healthy as we run the risk of being too dependent on it and politics may change in a way that can hurt us.”

“Our aim is to reposition ourselves on the EU market,” Derrab said. “We also hope to explore other profitable markets but our ports are not well connected enough to go far and wide. Logistics costs therefore become prohibitive.”

Midway through a $ 1 billion, government-backed industry development plan that started in 2008, Derrab said its execution is ahead of schedule. The plan provides for a 33 percent expansion of citrus-planted areas to 122,000 hectares (301,469 acres), and an increase in production from 1.2 million tons to 2.9 million tons.

“As far as the rejuvenation and extension of our citrus groves are concerned, we currently meet the objectives that were initially set,” Derrab said. “But we need to move faster on the logistics front to ensure the expected increase in production will be worth the investment effort.”

Source: businessweek.com

Publication date: 6/14/2013


FreshPlaza.com

Oct. 21, 2013: Consumers Seen Cautious for Holidays

A National Retail Federation survey of 6,415 consumers this month — at the start of the partial government shutdown — revealed that planned average spending on the upcoming winter holidays would be about $ 737.95, down 2% from a year ago. The average person also plans to do almost 40% of their shopping online this year, vs. 38.8% last year and the highest amount in the survey’s history.

Supermarket News

Safeway Seen Gaining From Market Exits

PLEASANTON, Calif. — Safeway’s decision to sell its Dominick’s division in Chicago is apparently one more step in a concerted turnaround strategy to gain more financial traction, industry observers told SN last week — with the possibility of more asset sales to come. With the divestiture of Genuardi’s last year, the pending sale of Safeway Canada and the current effort to sell the Chicago stores, “it’s clear Safeway hopes to gain traction,” …

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Supermarket News

Holiday Sales Gains Seen Similar to 2012

NEW YORK — Retailers can expect sales gains this holiday season comparable to a year ago as the economy improves at a gradual but steady pace, financial services firm Deloitte LLP said here Monday.

The company said it expects total holiday sales to climb between 4% and 4.5% over last year, similar to last year’s growth rate of 4.5%. It also forecasts an increase of 12.5% to 13% in non-store sales, primarily from online purchases.


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Alison Paul, vice president of Deloitte and its retail and distribution sector leader, said brick-and-mortar stores will still be a core element of holiday shopping, “and retailers leading the way this season will be those that effectively bring together their pricing, promotions, merchandise and inventory management across both their physical and digital storefronts.

“Additionally shoppers researching their purchases via PC, tablet or mobile phone are increasingly influencing in-store sales, particularly as we see greater integration across retailers’ store, online and mobile channels.”

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According to Daniel Bachman, Deloitte’s senior U.S. economist, “Rising home prices with steady job creation may buoy consumers’ confidence in the economy and create a wealth effect. The debt ceiling and budget debate will resume this fall, alongside uncertainty about the implementation of health care reform, which may cause some concern among consumers, but at a macro level these factors are unlikely to have a significant effect on the economy and retail sales.”

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Kroger CEO Succession Seen as ‘Smooth’

CINCINNATI — Rodney McMullen should step in to succeed David Dillon as chief executive officer of Kroger Co. without any major hiccups, analysts said on Friday.

As reported earlier on Friday, Dillon said he would retire at the end of the year after 11 years as CEO, and McMullen, his longtime partner in top-level decision-making at the company, would take over as CEO.


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“We believe Kroger has a deep management bench, with 240 years of combined experience among the top nine executives,” said Deborah Weinswig, an analyst at Citi Research, New York, in a research note. “We expect the transition at year-end to go smoothly as Mr. McMullen has been working closely with Mr. Dillon for over 10 years.”

The two executives together led the implementation of Kroger’s “Customer 1st” strategy at the start of Dillon’s tenure as CEO, an approach that many analysts say has helped the company thrive though the ups and downs of the economy and remain competitive against both nontraditional operators like Wal-Mart and traditional supermarkets.

McMullen is one of several top executives with decades of experience at Kroger. Others include Michael Schlotman, chief financial officer; Mike Donnelly, senior vice president of merchandising; and Marnette Perry, senior vice president of strategic initiatives and operations.

Read more: Dillon to Retire as Kroger CEO

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Supermarket News

Kroger CEO Succession Seen as ‘Smooth’

CINCINNATI — Rodney McMullen should step in to succeed David Dillon as chief executive officer of Kroger Co. without any major hiccups, analysts said on Friday.

As reported earlier on Friday, Dillon said he would retire at the end of the year after 11 years as CEO, and McMullen, his longtime partner in top-level decision-making at the company, would take over as CEO.


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“We believe Kroger has a deep management bench, with 240 years of combined experience among the top nine executives,” said Deborah Weinswig, an analyst at Citi Research, New York, in a research note. “We expect the transition at year-end to go smoothly as Mr. McMullen has been working closely with Mr. Dillon for over 10 years.”

The two executives together led the implementation of Kroger’s “Customer 1st” strategy at the start of Dillon’s tenure as CEO, an approach that many analysts say has helped the company thrive though the ups and downs of the economy and remain competitive against both nontraditional operators like Wal-Mart and traditional supermarkets.

McMullen is one of several top executives with decades of experience at Kroger. Others include Michael Schlotman, chief financial officer; Mike Donnelly, senior vice president of merchandising; and Marnette Perry, senior vice president of strategic initiatives and operations.

Read more: Dillon to Retire as Kroger CEO

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Supermarket News

‘Two Dozen’ Bidders Seen for Belle Stores

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — As many as two dozen bidders are expected for Belle Foods’ 44 remaining stores when they are put up for auction next month, according to a local report.

C&S Wholesale Grocers, which is Belle Foods’ primary lender, is seeking to recover through the Sept. 24 auction the $ 38.3 million in loans and credit that Belle Foods owes, according to a report on al.com.


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The report cited Associated Wholesale Grocers, Kansas City, Kan., as a potential bidder for some of the stores. According to the report, AWG had bid on some of those stores when they were up for sale through the bankruptcy auction of Bruno’s five years ago, but the stores were awarded to C&S because of the supply-contract rejection agreement the stores had with C&S.

“It was in the magnitude of tens of millions of dollars in the Bruno’s case,” Mark Benedict, an attorney for AWG, told the court.

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Supermarket News

‘Two Dozen’ Bidders Seen for Belle Stores

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — As many as two dozen bidders are expected for Belle Foods’ 44 remaining stores when they are put up for auction next month, according to a local report.

C&S Wholesale Grocers, which is Belle Foods’ primary lender, is seeking to recover through the Sept. 24 auction the $ 38.3 million in loans and credit that Belle Foods owes, according to a report on al.com.


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Follow @SN_News for updates throughout the day.


The report cited Associated Wholesale Grocers, Kansas City, Kan., as a potential bidder for some of the stores. According to the report, AWG had bid on some of those stores when they were up for sale through the bankruptcy auction of Bruno’s five years ago, but the stores were awarded to C&S because of the supply-contract rejection agreement the stores had with C&S.

“It was in the magnitude of tens of millions of dollars in the Bruno’s case,” Mark Benedict, an attorney for AWG, told the court.

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Discounter Lidl Seen Making Debut on East Coast by Early 2015

LONDON — The analyst who previously reported that Schwarz Group is studying the U.S. for potential expansion of its Lidl discount chain believes the company will be building stores there by early 2015. Matthias Queck, a research director at Planet Retail here, in a recent web presentation said that slowing growth in saturated European markets is forcing Schwarz to look at new markets, including the U.S. Currently operating in 26 European countries, Lidl is the largest grocer by …

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Supermarket News

Good production, quality and sizes seen on California garlic as harvest kicks off

Harvest of the 2013 California garlic crop both in the San Joaquin Valley and in the Gilroy area were just getting under way in early July, but strong demand was paving the way for an optimistic outlook for the season.

“So far, the crop looks very good,” said Bill Christopher, president of Christopher Ranch LLC in Gilroy. “Last year, yields were down a little bit. This year, yields are going to be average to good,” and the size of the garlic is also good, “so there will be plenty of fresh California garlic for the market this coming year.”

Currently “we are topping the early garlic in the San Joaquin Valley” and also in the Gilroy area, and “we are pulling late garlic in the San Joaquin Valley, so the harvest is in full swing,” he said.

Industrywide, garlic acreage in California may be up about 5 percent overall, Christopher said. The increase might have been higher than that, because the strong demand and good market prices of the past couple of years could induce growers to increase plantings.

But “because of the water problems in the [San Joaquin] Valley and the problems with seed the year before, people aren’t able to increase any more than that, and actually that is probably a good thing. By going up 5 percent, we should be able to satisfy the needs here.”

Water availability will continue to be a problem this year and is expected more of a problem next year. Labor shortages are also a concern, although “so far this year, we have had enough labor,” Christopher said. But labor costs are up. Health care reform has also brought added costs. All of those and other factors will continue to make garlic “more expensive to grow.”

Market prices this year could be affected by an increase in the supply of Chinese garlic. “There will be plenty of Chinese garlic available,” Christopher said. But “we are hoping that consumers here in the United States [who have] made the switch to California garlic are going to stay that way” and continue to buy California garlic “because of the flavor profile” and because of the food-safety audits and traceability programs that the foreign-produced garlic may not have.

“We think prices should remain pretty steady because all costs are up,” he said. So even with the increased volume, Christopher doesn’t expect much of a drop in the market prices for California garlic.

“Overall, I’ve heard it is going to be a pretty good year” for California garlic, said Louis Hymel, director of purchasing for Spice World Inc. in Orlando, FL, which has garlic growing and packing operations in California.

As for the harvest of company’s own product, “we’re just walking the fields now,” Hymel said July 5. “It is a little too soon to tell exact numbers” until it is in the packinghouse and “we start grading it, but so far, things are looking pretty good. Quality is looking really nice this year.”

Spice World’s acreage is about the same as last year, he said.

“What is going to make this year a little interesting is China has a very big crop of garlic — 20 to 30 percent more than last year, and it looks like China may have some very low-priced garlic coming in to the United States this year,” Hymel said.

Due to the “lack of size and lack of quality” of the Chinese product over the past couple of years, “more people have shown a stronger interest” in California garlic, Hymel said. This year, “the biggest threat [to California garlic] is going to be the prices out of China, although it is a little too soon to tell what long-term effect that might have.”

Spice World is “a California grower first and foremost,” but it also imports garlic from other areas of the world, including Argentina, Chile, Mexico and China.

“Our key is to offer our customers whatever they want,” Hymel said. “We do a good job on whatever we offer them and give [them] the quality assurance they need buying from a domestic producer.”

“From what I am seeing, the local crop looks very nice,” said David Grimes, proprietor of the David E. Grimes Co. in Hollister, CA. However, some of the late garlic may be “kind of a mixed bag. I don’t think the size is as big in some of the late fields as we were thinking it was going to be this year.”

The early garlic harvest in California was “just getting going,” Grimes said. “Some of it is starting to be packed right now.” Overall, acreage of California garlic is “fairly stable,” and yields should be good this year, although the late garlic “may be a little bit light” because of sizing.

As for the Elephant garlic crop, “what I have seen looked very good,” he said. “The sizes are there.”

Meanwhile, the Baja California, Mexico, garlic was “very nice quality and selling well,” but is dominated heavy to medium sizes, he said.

“Markets right now are still good,” but when the Chinese garlic comes in, “things could change,” he said. With the largest crop in four years, “they are talking about coming in at cheaper prices.”

“I’m hearing positive reports” about California garlic, said Jim Provost, managing partner of I Love Produce in West Grove, PA, a major importer of Chinese garlic who also handles garlic from California and elsewhere. “The early garlic report said it is going to be a very good quality year” for California garlic, with “good skin, good size, just overall a good crop.”

Paul Auerbach, president of Maurice A. Auerbach Inc. in Secaucus, NJ, which also sources garlic from many producing areas, told The Produce News July 8, “Right now we are in the middle of a very strong Baja crop. We just finished our Argentina [garlic] the end of June, and it was a very successful year.”

The Baja product “looks like a box of California garlic,” but it did not have a lot of big sizes, he said.

“California, from what I understand, should have a decent crop” this year, said Auerbach. “Everyone planted a little bit more acres following a couple of good years,” but not significantly more.

The company expected to have California garlic available within two weeks and to transition more from Baja into California product over the summer.

“I would say by mid-August, we will be selling half of each,” and by fall “be done with the Baja and just have the California,” Auerbach said.

“We are also a player in the Chinese, but that is marketed basically to a different audience,” he said. “There aren’t as many customers that demand California as prefer non-Chinese.”

However, there will be a demand for California garlic in the larger sizes, and customers who “will pay the difference to go from Chinese to non-Chinese product generally will also pay the additional money” to get the larger sizes from California.

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines

Good production, quality and sizes seen on California garlic as harvest kicks off

Harvest of the 2013 California garlic crop both in the San Joaquin Valley and in the Gilroy area were just getting under way in early July, but strong demand was paving the way for an optimistic outlook for the season.

“So far, the crop looks very good,” said Bill Christopher, president of Christopher Ranch LLC in Gilroy. “Last year, yields were down a little bit. This year, yields are going to be average to good,” and the size of the garlic is also good, “so there will be plenty of fresh California garlic for the market this coming year.”

Currently “we are topping the early garlic in the San Joaquin Valley” and also in the Gilroy area, and “we are pulling late garlic in the San Joaquin Valley, so the harvest is in full swing,” he said.

Industrywide, garlic acreage in California may be up about 5 percent overall, Christopher said. The increase might have been higher than that, because the strong demand and good market prices of the past couple of years could induce growers to increase plantings.

But “because of the water problems in the [San Joaquin] Valley and the problems with seed the year before, people aren’t able to increase any more than that, and actually that is probably a good thing. By going up 5 percent, we should be able to satisfy the needs here.”

Water availability will continue to be a problem this year and is expected more of a problem next year. Labor shortages are also a concern, although “so far this year, we have had enough labor,” Christopher said. But labor costs are up. Health care reform has also brought added costs. All of those and other factors will continue to make garlic “more expensive to grow.”

Market prices this year could be affected by an increase in the supply of Chinese garlic. “There will be plenty of Chinese garlic available,” Christopher said. But “we are hoping that consumers here in the United States [who have] made the switch to California garlic are going to stay that way” and continue to buy California garlic “because of the flavor profile” and because of the food-safety audits and traceability programs that the foreign-produced garlic may not have.

“We think prices should remain pretty steady because all costs are up,” he said. So even with the increased volume, Christopher doesn’t expect much of a drop in the market prices for California garlic.

“Overall, I’ve heard it is going to be a pretty good year” for California garlic, said Louis Hymel, director of purchasing for Spice World Inc. in Orlando, FL, which has garlic growing and packing operations in California.

As for the harvest of company’s own product, “we’re just walking the fields now,” Hymel said July 5. “It is a little too soon to tell exact numbers” until it is in the packinghouse and “we start grading it, but so far, things are looking pretty good. Quality is looking really nice this year.”

Spice World’s acreage is about the same as last year, he said.

“What is going to make this year a little interesting is China has a very big crop of garlic — 20 to 30 percent more than last year, and it looks like China may have some very low-priced garlic coming in to the United States this year,” Hymel said.

Due to the “lack of size and lack of quality” of the Chinese product over the past couple of years, “more people have shown a stronger interest” in California garlic, Hymel said. This year, “the biggest threat [to California garlic] is going to be the prices out of China, although it is a little too soon to tell what long-term effect that might have.”

Spice World is “a California grower first and foremost,” but it also imports garlic from other areas of the world, including Argentina, Chile, Mexico and China.

“Our key is to offer our customers whatever they want,” Hymel said. “We do a good job on whatever we offer them and give [them] the quality assurance they need buying from a domestic producer.”

“From what I am seeing, the local crop looks very nice,” said David Grimes, proprietor of the David E. Grimes Co. in Hollister, CA. However, some of the late garlic may be “kind of a mixed bag. I don’t think the size is as big in some of the late fields as we were thinking it was going to be this year.”

The early garlic harvest in California was “just getting going,” Grimes said. “Some of it is starting to be packed right now.” Overall, acreage of California garlic is “fairly stable,” and yields should be good this year, although the late garlic “may be a little bit light” because of sizing.

As for the Elephant garlic crop, “what I have seen looked very good,” he said. “The sizes are there.”

Meanwhile, the Baja California, Mexico, garlic was “very nice quality and selling well,” but is dominated heavy to medium sizes, he said.

“Markets right now are still good,” but when the Chinese garlic comes in, “things could change,” he said. With the largest crop in four years, “they are talking about coming in at cheaper prices.”

“I’m hearing positive reports” about California garlic, said Jim Provost, managing partner of I Love Produce in West Grove, PA, a major importer of Chinese garlic who also handles garlic from California and elsewhere. “The early garlic report said it is going to be a very good quality year” for California garlic, with “good skin, good size, just overall a good crop.”

Paul Auerbach, president of Maurice A. Auerbach Inc. in Secaucus, NJ, which also sources garlic from many producing areas, told The Produce News July 8, “Right now we are in the middle of a very strong Baja crop. We just finished our Argentina [garlic] the end of June, and it was a very successful year.”

The Baja product “looks like a box of California garlic,” but it did not have a lot of big sizes, he said.

“California, from what I understand, should have a decent crop” this year, said Auerbach. “Everyone planted a little bit more acres following a couple of good years,” but not significantly more.

The company expected to have California garlic available within two weeks and to transition more from Baja into California product over the summer.

“I would say by mid-August, we will be selling half of each,” and by fall “be done with the Baja and just have the California,” Auerbach said.

“We are also a player in the Chinese, but that is marketed basically to a different audience,” he said. “There aren’t as many customers that demand California as prefer non-Chinese.”

However, there will be a demand for California garlic in the larger sizes, and customers who “will pay the difference to go from Chinese to non-Chinese product generally will also pay the additional money” to get the larger sizes from California.

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines

Good production, quality and sizes seen on California garlic as harvest kicks off

Harvest of the 2013 California garlic crop both in the San Joaquin Valley and in the Gilroy area were just getting under way in early July, but strong demand was paving the way for an optimistic outlook for the season.

“So far, the crop looks very good,” said Bill Christopher, president of Christopher Ranch LLC in Gilroy. “Last year, yields were down a little bit. This year, yields are going to be average to good,” and the size of the garlic is also good, “so there will be plenty of fresh California garlic for the market this coming year.”

Currently “we are topping the early garlic in the San Joaquin Valley” and also in the Gilroy area, and “we are pulling late garlic in the San Joaquin Valley, so the harvest is in full swing,” he said.

Industrywide, garlic acreage in California may be up about 5 percent overall, Christopher said. The increase might have been higher than that, because the strong demand and good market prices of the past couple of years could induce growers to increase plantings.

But “because of the water problems in the [San Joaquin] Valley and the problems with seed the year before, people aren’t able to increase any more than that, and actually that is probably a good thing. By going up 5 percent, we should be able to satisfy the needs here.”

Water availability will continue to be a problem this year and is expected more of a problem next year. Labor shortages are also a concern, although “so far this year, we have had enough labor,” Christopher said. But labor costs are up. Health care reform has also brought added costs. All of those and other factors will continue to make garlic “more expensive to grow.”

Market prices this year could be affected by an increase in the supply of Chinese garlic. “There will be plenty of Chinese garlic available,” Christopher said. But “we are hoping that consumers here in the United States [who have] made the switch to California garlic are going to stay that way” and continue to buy California garlic “because of the flavor profile” and because of the food-safety audits and traceability programs that the foreign-produced garlic may not have.

“We think prices should remain pretty steady because all costs are up,” he said. So even with the increased volume, Christopher doesn’t expect much of a drop in the market prices for California garlic.

“Overall, I’ve heard it is going to be a pretty good year” for California garlic, said Louis Hymel, director of purchasing for Spice World Inc. in Orlando, FL, which has garlic growing and packing operations in California.

As for the harvest of company’s own product, “we’re just walking the fields now,” Hymel said July 5. “It is a little too soon to tell exact numbers” until it is in the packinghouse and “we start grading it, but so far, things are looking pretty good. Quality is looking really nice this year.”

Spice World’s acreage is about the same as last year, he said.

“What is going to make this year a little interesting is China has a very big crop of garlic — 20 to 30 percent more than last year, and it looks like China may have some very low-priced garlic coming in to the United States this year,” Hymel said.

Due to the “lack of size and lack of quality” of the Chinese product over the past couple of years, “more people have shown a stronger interest” in California garlic, Hymel said. This year, “the biggest threat [to California garlic] is going to be the prices out of China, although it is a little too soon to tell what long-term effect that might have.”

Spice World is “a California grower first and foremost,” but it also imports garlic from other areas of the world, including Argentina, Chile, Mexico and China.

“Our key is to offer our customers whatever they want,” Hymel said. “We do a good job on whatever we offer them and give [them] the quality assurance they need buying from a domestic producer.”

“From what I am seeing, the local crop looks very nice,” said David Grimes, proprietor of the David E. Grimes Co. in Hollister, CA. However, some of the late garlic may be “kind of a mixed bag. I don’t think the size is as big in some of the late fields as we were thinking it was going to be this year.”

The early garlic harvest in California was “just getting going,” Grimes said. “Some of it is starting to be packed right now.” Overall, acreage of California garlic is “fairly stable,” and yields should be good this year, although the late garlic “may be a little bit light” because of sizing.

As for the Elephant garlic crop, “what I have seen looked very good,” he said. “The sizes are there.”

Meanwhile, the Baja California, Mexico, garlic was “very nice quality and selling well,” but is dominated heavy to medium sizes, he said.

“Markets right now are still good,” but when the Chinese garlic comes in, “things could change,” he said. With the largest crop in four years, “they are talking about coming in at cheaper prices.”

“I’m hearing positive reports” about California garlic, said Jim Provost, managing partner of I Love Produce in West Grove, PA, a major importer of Chinese garlic who also handles garlic from California and elsewhere. “The early garlic report said it is going to be a very good quality year” for California garlic, with “good skin, good size, just overall a good crop.”

Paul Auerbach, president of Maurice A. Auerbach Inc. in Secaucus, NJ, which also sources garlic from many producing areas, told The Produce News July 8, “Right now we are in the middle of a very strong Baja crop. We just finished our Argentina [garlic] the end of June, and it was a very successful year.”

The Baja product “looks like a box of California garlic,” but it did not have a lot of big sizes, he said.

“California, from what I understand, should have a decent crop” this year, said Auerbach. “Everyone planted a little bit more acres following a couple of good years,” but not significantly more.

The company expected to have California garlic available within two weeks and to transition more from Baja into California product over the summer.

“I would say by mid-August, we will be selling half of each,” and by fall “be done with the Baja and just have the California,” Auerbach said.

“We are also a player in the Chinese, but that is marketed basically to a different audience,” he said. “There aren’t as many customers that demand California as prefer non-Chinese.”

However, there will be a demand for California garlic in the larger sizes, and customers who “will pay the difference to go from Chinese to non-Chinese product generally will also pay the additional money” to get the larger sizes from California.

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines

Good production, quality and sizes seen on California garlic as harvest kicks off

Harvest of the 2013 California garlic crop both in the San Joaquin Valley and in the Gilroy area were just getting under way in early July, but strong demand was paving the way for an optimistic outlook for the season.

“So far, the crop looks very good,” said Bill Christopher, president of Christopher Ranch LLC in Gilroy. “Last year, yields were down a little bit. This year, yields are going to be average to good,” and the size of the garlic is also good, “so there will be plenty of fresh California garlic for the market this coming year.”

Currently “we are topping the early garlic in the San Joaquin Valley” and also in the Gilroy area, and “we are pulling late garlic in the San Joaquin Valley, so the harvest is in full swing,” he said.

Industrywide, garlic acreage in California may be up about 5 percent overall, Christopher said. The increase might have been higher than that, because the strong demand and good market prices of the past couple of years could induce growers to increase plantings.

But “because of the water problems in the [San Joaquin] Valley and the problems with seed the year before, people aren’t able to increase any more than that, and actually that is probably a good thing. By going up 5 percent, we should be able to satisfy the needs here.”

Water availability will continue to be a problem this year and is expected more of a problem next year. Labor shortages are also a concern, although “so far this year, we have had enough labor,” Christopher said. But labor costs are up. Health care reform has also brought added costs. All of those and other factors will continue to make garlic “more expensive to grow.”

Market prices this year could be affected by an increase in the supply of Chinese garlic. “There will be plenty of Chinese garlic available,” Christopher said. But “we are hoping that consumers here in the United States [who have] made the switch to California garlic are going to stay that way” and continue to buy California garlic “because of the flavor profile” and because of the food-safety audits and traceability programs that the foreign-produced garlic may not have.

“We think prices should remain pretty steady because all costs are up,” he said. So even with the increased volume, Christopher doesn’t expect much of a drop in the market prices for California garlic.

“Overall, I’ve heard it is going to be a pretty good year” for California garlic, said Louis Hymel, director of purchasing for Spice World Inc. in Orlando, FL, which has garlic growing and packing operations in California.

As for the harvest of company’s own product, “we’re just walking the fields now,” Hymel said July 5. “It is a little too soon to tell exact numbers” until it is in the packinghouse and “we start grading it, but so far, things are looking pretty good. Quality is looking really nice this year.”

Spice World’s acreage is about the same as last year, he said.

“What is going to make this year a little interesting is China has a very big crop of garlic — 20 to 30 percent more than last year, and it looks like China may have some very low-priced garlic coming in to the United States this year,” Hymel said.

Due to the “lack of size and lack of quality” of the Chinese product over the past couple of years, “more people have shown a stronger interest” in California garlic, Hymel said. This year, “the biggest threat [to California garlic] is going to be the prices out of China, although it is a little too soon to tell what long-term effect that might have.”

Spice World is “a California grower first and foremost,” but it also imports garlic from other areas of the world, including Argentina, Chile, Mexico and China.

“Our key is to offer our customers whatever they want,” Hymel said. “We do a good job on whatever we offer them and give [them] the quality assurance they need buying from a domestic producer.”

“From what I am seeing, the local crop looks very nice,” said David Grimes, proprietor of the David E. Grimes Co. in Hollister, CA. However, some of the late garlic may be “kind of a mixed bag. I don’t think the size is as big in some of the late fields as we were thinking it was going to be this year.”

The early garlic harvest in California was “just getting going,” Grimes said. “Some of it is starting to be packed right now.” Overall, acreage of California garlic is “fairly stable,” and yields should be good this year, although the late garlic “may be a little bit light” because of sizing.

As for the Elephant garlic crop, “what I have seen looked very good,” he said. “The sizes are there.”

Meanwhile, the Baja California, Mexico, garlic was “very nice quality and selling well,” but is dominated heavy to medium sizes, he said.

“Markets right now are still good,” but when the Chinese garlic comes in, “things could change,” he said. With the largest crop in four years, “they are talking about coming in at cheaper prices.”

“I’m hearing positive reports” about California garlic, said Jim Provost, managing partner of I Love Produce in West Grove, PA, a major importer of Chinese garlic who also handles garlic from California and elsewhere. “The early garlic report said it is going to be a very good quality year” for California garlic, with “good skin, good size, just overall a good crop.”

Paul Auerbach, president of Maurice A. Auerbach Inc. in Secaucus, NJ, which also sources garlic from many producing areas, told The Produce News July 8, “Right now we are in the middle of a very strong Baja crop. We just finished our Argentina [garlic] the end of June, and it was a very successful year.”

The Baja product “looks like a box of California garlic,” but it did not have a lot of big sizes, he said.

“California, from what I understand, should have a decent crop” this year, said Auerbach. “Everyone planted a little bit more acres following a couple of good years,” but not significantly more.

The company expected to have California garlic available within two weeks and to transition more from Baja into California product over the summer.

“I would say by mid-August, we will be selling half of each,” and by fall “be done with the Baja and just have the California,” Auerbach said.

“We are also a player in the Chinese, but that is marketed basically to a different audience,” he said. “There aren’t as many customers that demand California as prefer non-Chinese.”

However, there will be a demand for California garlic in the larger sizes, and customers who “will pay the difference to go from Chinese to non-Chinese product generally will also pay the additional money” to get the larger sizes from California.

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines

Good production, quality and sizes seen on California garlic as harvest kicks off

Harvest of the 2013 California garlic crop both in the San Joaquin Valley and in the Gilroy area were just getting under way in early July, but strong demand was paving the way for an optimistic outlook for the season.

“So far, the crop looks very good,” said Bill Christopher, president of Christopher Ranch LLC in Gilroy. “Last year, yields were down a little bit. This year, yields are going to be average to good,” and the size of the garlic is also good, “so there will be plenty of fresh California garlic for the market this coming year.”

Currently “we are topping the early garlic in the San Joaquin Valley” and also in the Gilroy area, and “we are pulling late garlic in the San Joaquin Valley, so the harvest is in full swing,” he said.

Industrywide, garlic acreage in California may be up about 5 percent overall, Christopher said. The increase might have been higher than that, because the strong demand and good market prices of the past couple of years could induce growers to increase plantings.

But “because of the water problems in the [San Joaquin] Valley and the problems with seed the year before, people aren’t able to increase any more than that, and actually that is probably a good thing. By going up 5 percent, we should be able to satisfy the needs here.”

Water availability will continue to be a problem this year and is expected more of a problem next year. Labor shortages are also a concern, although “so far this year, we have had enough labor,” Christopher said. But labor costs are up. Health care reform has also brought added costs. All of those and other factors will continue to make garlic “more expensive to grow.”

Market prices this year could be affected by an increase in the supply of Chinese garlic. “There will be plenty of Chinese garlic available,” Christopher said. But “we are hoping that consumers here in the United States [who have] made the switch to California garlic are going to stay that way” and continue to buy California garlic “because of the flavor profile” and because of the food-safety audits and traceability programs that the foreign-produced garlic may not have.

“We think prices should remain pretty steady because all costs are up,” he said. So even with the increased volume, Christopher doesn’t expect much of a drop in the market prices for California garlic.

“Overall, I’ve heard it is going to be a pretty good year” for California garlic, said Louis Hymel, director of purchasing for Spice World Inc. in Orlando, FL, which has garlic growing and packing operations in California.

As for the harvest of company’s own product, “we’re just walking the fields now,” Hymel said July 5. “It is a little too soon to tell exact numbers” until it is in the packinghouse and “we start grading it, but so far, things are looking pretty good. Quality is looking really nice this year.”

Spice World’s acreage is about the same as last year, he said.

“What is going to make this year a little interesting is China has a very big crop of garlic — 20 to 30 percent more than last year, and it looks like China may have some very low-priced garlic coming in to the United States this year,” Hymel said.

Due to the “lack of size and lack of quality” of the Chinese product over the past couple of years, “more people have shown a stronger interest” in California garlic, Hymel said. This year, “the biggest threat [to California garlic] is going to be the prices out of China, although it is a little too soon to tell what long-term effect that might have.”

Spice World is “a California grower first and foremost,” but it also imports garlic from other areas of the world, including Argentina, Chile, Mexico and China.

“Our key is to offer our customers whatever they want,” Hymel said. “We do a good job on whatever we offer them and give [them] the quality assurance they need buying from a domestic producer.”

“From what I am seeing, the local crop looks very nice,” said David Grimes, proprietor of the David E. Grimes Co. in Hollister, CA. However, some of the late garlic may be “kind of a mixed bag. I don’t think the size is as big in some of the late fields as we were thinking it was going to be this year.”

The early garlic harvest in California was “just getting going,” Grimes said. “Some of it is starting to be packed right now.” Overall, acreage of California garlic is “fairly stable,” and yields should be good this year, although the late garlic “may be a little bit light” because of sizing.

As for the Elephant garlic crop, “what I have seen looked very good,” he said. “The sizes are there.”

Meanwhile, the Baja California, Mexico, garlic was “very nice quality and selling well,” but is dominated heavy to medium sizes, he said.

“Markets right now are still good,” but when the Chinese garlic comes in, “things could change,” he said. With the largest crop in four years, “they are talking about coming in at cheaper prices.”

“I’m hearing positive reports” about California garlic, said Jim Provost, managing partner of I Love Produce in West Grove, PA, a major importer of Chinese garlic who also handles garlic from California and elsewhere. “The early garlic report said it is going to be a very good quality year” for California garlic, with “good skin, good size, just overall a good crop.”

Paul Auerbach, president of Maurice A. Auerbach Inc. in Secaucus, NJ, which also sources garlic from many producing areas, told The Produce News July 8, “Right now we are in the middle of a very strong Baja crop. We just finished our Argentina [garlic] the end of June, and it was a very successful year.”

The Baja product “looks like a box of California garlic,” but it did not have a lot of big sizes, he said.

“California, from what I understand, should have a decent crop” this year, said Auerbach. “Everyone planted a little bit more acres following a couple of good years,” but not significantly more.

The company expected to have California garlic available within two weeks and to transition more from Baja into California product over the summer.

“I would say by mid-August, we will be selling half of each,” and by fall “be done with the Baja and just have the California,” Auerbach said.

“We are also a player in the Chinese, but that is marketed basically to a different audience,” he said. “There aren’t as many customers that demand California as prefer non-Chinese.”

However, there will be a demand for California garlic in the larger sizes, and customers who “will pay the difference to go from Chinese to non-Chinese product generally will also pay the additional money” to get the larger sizes from California.

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines