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Avocado market strengthens as Mexican shipments wane and California fruit sizes

The California avocado deal has been hampered by a plethora of small-sized fruit, with Mexican producers providing most of the larger fruit for the past couple of months. But the avocado market is on an uptick as Mexico moves into a typical lag period and California fruit begins to have a more diverse size portfolio.

Rob Wedin, vice president of fresh sales for Calavo Growers Inc. in Santa Paula, CA, told The Produce News that “Mexico is barely importing any small fruit at all, while packers in California are getting better sizing every day.”

The result, he said, is a strengthening in the market. He said Mexico’s fruit, which has largely ranged from 32-48s, was down in volume the last week in June and should be down for most of July. It will be August, he predicted, before Mexico gets into big volume shipments again as its new crop begins.

At the same time, California is expected to have good size and good volume well into October.

At the beginning of the season, the California crop was estimated at about 515 million pounds, which is a big-volume crop. The smaller fruit during the first third of the season has reduced the estimate a bit, but most observers still expect it to be very close to the 500 million-pound figure.

Illustrating the size issue was Mark Carroll, senior director of purchasing and merchandising for produce and floral for Gelson’s Markets, which is a Southern California chain of 16 upscale stores.

Gelson’s typically supports the California avocado growers when their crop is in season, but this year it was mid-June before he was able to find enough large fruit for his conventional displays.

He said he was able to switch to organic avocados from California early in the season because he uses a 48 size in his organic displays. But he just wasn’t able to find enough of the 40 size and larger fruit for his conventional displays until mid-June.

Wedin said that most of the larger California Hass avocados that have been available are “Lamb Hass,” which is a slightly different variety though it does have the “Hass” designation and as the season wears on it is hardly distinguishable from the regular Hass. It does have a slightly smoother skin, especially early in the season.

Bob Lucy, who is a partner and handles sales at Del Rey Avocado Co. in Fallbrook, CA, cautioned that while the fruit is getting larger, it may be several weeks before there are consistent supplies across all sizes.

Lucy said many growers have been size picking for two months, literally taking any fruit with any size at all off the trees. So even though the fruit is now sizing at a much faster clip, he said it is going to take several weeks to completely fill the pipeline of all sizes.

So during the last week of June, the shipment of smaller fruit (60-72) from California actually increased as a percentage of total volume while larger fruit (40 and 48) declined, according to Lucy

Of course this was also caused by a several-dollar jump in the market place, which saw a strong demand for many sizes.

By the last week of June, the U.S. Market News Service reported that larger fruit from California was selling in the $ 35 to $ 37 range, while the smaller fruit was in the $ 28 to $ 30 range. Some of the smaller fruit was being sold in bags for attractive retail pricing on multiples.

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines

China: Good colour and big sizes for new season Fuji

China: Good colour and big sizes for new season Fuji

The harvest of Fuji apples at Isnaet, China has come finished for the season, the apples are on the market and in storage. Peter Zhu from the company said there are some differences compared to last season.

“Sizes are larger this year, especially in the Yantai growing region. Yields are down 20% but prices are 40%. The quality of the Fuji apples is much better though, the colour is very good, with a much redder apple being produced, this due to a later harvest than last year.”

More apples are in storage as growers expect a higher price in the first half of 2015. Demand for apples fell in October and not expected to be picked for a few months.

Zhu said that due to the lower yields growers will still turn a profit

Contact details:
Peter Zhu
Isnet- China
Tel: +86 532 8372 2961 +86 532 8372 2961
email:[email protected]
www.isnet.cn.com
 

Publication date: 10/31/2014
Author: Nichola Watson
Copyright: www.freshplaza.com


FreshPlaza.com

China: Good colour and big sizes for new season Fuji

China: Good colour and big sizes for new season Fuji

The harvest of Fuji apples at Isnaet, China has come finished for the season, the apples are on the market and in storage. Peter Zhu from the company said there are some differences compared to last season.

“Sizes are larger this year, especially in the Yantai growing region. Yields are down 20% but prices are 40%. The quality of the Fuji apples is much better though, the colour is very good, with a much redder apple being produced, this due to a later harvest than last year.”

More apples are in storage as growers expect a higher price in the first half of 2015. Demand for apples fell in October and not expected to be picked for a few months.

Zhu said that due to the lower yields growers will still turn a profit

Contact details:
Peter Zhu
Isnet- China
Tel: +86 532 8372 2961 +86 532 8372 2961
email:[email protected]
www.isnet.cn.com
 

Publication date: 10/31/2014
Author: Nichola Watson
Copyright: www.freshplaza.com


FreshPlaza.com

China: Good colour and big sizes for new season Fuji

China: Good colour and big sizes for new season Fuji

The harvest of Fuji apples at Isnaet, China has come finished for the season, the apples are on the market and in storage. Peter Zhu from the company said there are some differences compared to last season.

“Sizes are larger this year, especially in the Yantai growing region. Yields are down 20% but prices are 40%. The quality of the Fuji apples is much better though, the colour is very good, with a much redder apple being produced, this due to a later harvest than last year.”

More apples are in storage as growers expect a higher price in the first half of 2015. Demand for apples fell in October and not expected to be picked for a few months.

Zhu said that due to the lower yields growers will still turn a profit

Contact details:
Peter Zhu
Isnet- China
Tel: +86 532 8372 2961 +86 532 8372 2961
email:[email protected]
www.isnet.cn.com
 

Publication date: 10/31/2014
Author: Nichola Watson
Copyright: www.freshplaza.com


FreshPlaza.com

China: Good colour and big sizes for new season Fuji

China: Good colour and big sizes for new season Fuji

The harvest of Fuji apples at Isnaet, China has come finished for the season, the apples are on the market and in storage. Peter Zhu from the company said there are some differences compared to last season.

“Sizes are larger this year, especially in the Yantai growing region. Yields are down 20% but prices are 40%. The quality of the Fuji apples is much better though, the colour is very good, with a much redder apple being produced, this due to a later harvest than last year.”

More apples are in storage as growers expect a higher price in the first half of 2015. Demand for apples fell in October and not expected to be picked for a few months.

Zhu said that due to the lower yields growers will still turn a profit

Contact details:
Peter Zhu
Isnet- China
Tel: +86 532 8372 2961 +86 532 8372 2961
email:[email protected]
www.isnet.cn.com
 

Publication date: 10/31/2014
Author: Nichola Watson
Copyright: www.freshplaza.com


FreshPlaza.com

CA (BC): Larger apple sizes, increased competition in British Columbia

A good bloom set and favourable weather conditions have made for good volumes and larger-sized fruit in British Columbia. But a large crop in Washington State has offered increased competition and made for lower prices.

“Apart from some localized hail, the apple crop seems to be good in quality, colour, condition and size,” said Glen Lucas, general manager for the BC Fruit Growers’ Association. “I’ve heard different things, but it seems like it’s also going to be an above-average crop.” It’s not clear how much above average this year’s crop will be. What is clear is that quality will be good, meaning that this year’s pack-outs will provide plenty of fruit for the fresh market.

Because acreage has remained steady over the last few years, this year’s larger crop is attributed to better yields brought on by favourable weather. That weather has also made for larger fruit, which growers hope will offset some of the lower prices spurred on by increased competition from Washington State apples.

“The apple market seems to be picking up with steady movement, but we’re competing against lower prices from Washington,” said Don Wescott of BC Tree Fruits Limited. “We’re facing a lot more market pressure from Washington, because they have a record crop, so they’re scrambling to move as much product as they can. So prices are down from last year, I’d say about a couple of dollars per box.” Larger fruit sizing is helping growers in this situation, as is the current exchange rate, which is helping Canadian exporters.

For more information:

Glen Lucas

BC Fruit Growers’ Association

+1 250 762 5226

FreshPlaza.com

South Africa: Big sizes complicate citrus exports

South Africa: Big sizes complicate citrus exports

Harvest of Navels has started in the northern region of South Africa and according to Arno Steenkamp it is going well. “The only problem we have is big fruit sizes, 40-64. The Middle East/Russia are looking for Navels at the moment and prices are good.

The demand is not quite there in Europe yet as there is still a lot of Spanish fruit on the market but Arno expects that to pick up in a couple of weeks. “Overall the quality of the first Navels is good with good colour, although there is some hail damage which means more classII fruit.”

Small volumes of Navels are starting to come from the East Cape, where again sizes are big. Normally this would be sent to Europe, but due to the protocols for CBS only registered growers can send fruit to the EU.

Star Ruby

So far a lot of Star Ruby grapefruit has been sent to Russia/Japan and Europe. “There has also been a lot sent to Far East. Volumes are similar to last year but again the sizes are big. The markets are also changing, becoming more difficult, South Africa has planted a lot of Star Ruby in the last few years and if the weather conditions remain ideal for grapefruit, we will probably be producing too much,” explains Arno.

Lemons

The lemon market is still exciting with volumes similar to last year and sizing being bigger as well this year. All markets are still looking good with less volume expected from Argentina. Argentina is the main supplier of lemons in the southern Hemisphere.
In Europe there is still Northern Hemisphere lemons on the market but demand should pick up in the coming weeks.

Publication date: 5/16/2014
Author: Nichola Watson
Copyright: www.freshplaza.com


FreshPlaza.com

French apple growers find themselves with smaller sizes

French apple growers find themselves with smaller sizes

Though apple tonnage is back to normal this year in France, fruit distributors are having a harder time moving this year’s crop due to smaller apple sizes.

“When you have smaller sizes you need more consumers to buy apples,” said Blue Whale’s Marc Peyres. Because consumers typically consume apples by the number of apples rather than by weight, smaller sizes mean less tonnage could be sold this year. So while the same number of apples are sold, less fruit, as measured by weight, is actually being bought by consumers.

 

“When we look at total volume, it will be a difficult season,” said Peyres. “But it might seem that way because last year was much easier.” Despite having trouble moving tonnage, he added that the season has been a positive one when it comes to pricing. While he found it hard to top last year’s impressive sales, Peyres believes this season will top 2011′s.

“Prices are quite stable, so while some varieties are going up in price, average prices are okay so far,” said Peyres. Granny, Fuji, Pink Lady and Gala apples are all doing well, in terms of prices, noted Peyres, but we need more market to move the total volume.

“The problem we have with consumption has to do with kilos, not with number of apples sold,” said Peyres. “The market is very stable, so it’s not a question of price, it’s a question of size.”

Kiwi
On the other hand, he predicted a kiwi season with few obstacles.“There wasn’t as much fruit from Chile in November and December, because they finished early, and it’s likely they’ll be a little late for the start of next year’s season,” said Peyres, “and that’s the case for all markets, not just for Europe.” That means French exporters will have less competition in the market.

“We anticipate a good balance between supply and demand, and since the crop is not so big, it will be easy to have a good market for kiwis,” said Peyres. “I think this could be one of the best seasons for kiwis we’ve had in the last ten years.”

For more information:
Marc Peyres
Blue Whale
Tel +33 5.63.21.56.56
Email: [email protected]
www.blue-whale.com

Publication date: 1/23/2014
Author: Carlos Nunez
Copyright: www.freshplaza.com


FreshPlaza.com

US (WA): Large sizes anticipated for this season’s apples

Estimates concerning the upcoming Washington apple crop suggest large sizes this season. The start of the season is also expected to begin earlier this year.

Measurements done by Domex Superfresh Growers earlier this month revealed large fruit sizing. With sizes expected to peak on 88′s, 80′s and larger, sizing is expected to be exceptionally large this year. But, noted Domex’s Howard Nager, there are still several weeks left before the start of the season, and many things can change in that time.

Harvesting is expected to commence at the start of next month, and promotional volumes should arrive up to two weeks earlier than they did last year. While official estimates for the size of this year’s crop are still several weeks away, current unofficial estimates put this year’s apple output between 110 million and 125 million boxes.

FreshPlaza.com

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

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