Shoppers will be looking for it, but retailers will be hard pressed to stock their wet racks with organic cauliflower this Thanksgiving.
“Organic cauliflower is basically non-existent right now,” said Doug Classen, sales manager for The Nunes Company, Salinas, CA. “If you could find any organic cauliflower, the FOB price would be north of $40.” Classen does not expect the supply situation to change until after Thanksgiving.
Organic production of many row crop vegetables has started to transition to desert production in California and Arizona growing regions. “During the transition from central California locations, we expect lighter supplies and higher markets,” he said.
Most organic vegetable items should transition during the week of Nov. 13, in time for cross-country Thanksgiving deliveries. However, Classen noted that time frame is also heavy demand period, and he believes the market for organic vegetables will be strong, with prices reflecting the stronger demand.
The Nunes Company has steadily increased its organic acreage and Classen believes other grower-shippers are following suit. “Little by little, we are seeing increases in production and more opportunities for sourcing,” he said. He noted organic vegetables still command a premium in the marketplace as consumer demand continues to rise.
Further south, Darrel Beyer, an organic salesman for Boskovich Farms Inc. in Oxnard, CA, was looking forward to the transition from summer to winter production and a corresponding jump in the FOB price for organics. Boskovich grows about 15 different organic vegetables including Brussels sprouts, celery, several different kale and chard varieties, cilantro, green onions and their newest item, romaine hearts. He said organic romaine hearts should be available in the later stages of November, joking that the field will probably be ready to harvest the day after Thanksgiving---when demand typically takes a dive.
Beyer said local organic deals around the country reduce demand during the summer and he was waiting for the fall/winter months to recapture organic vegetables sales of California and Arizona product. He noted the local deals seemed to last further into the fall this year and was happy to hear of a crop-ending cold front that descended upon much of the country this week.
Supplies of many organic vegetables for Thanksgiving should be steady, Beyer said, noting demand should create a more favorable marketing situation for growers.
Boskovich Sales Manager Russell Widerburg added that the firm continues to increase its organic footprint, adding new items to its sales list every season. He said more acreage is being devoted to organics and the company’s list of both organic and conventional items is showing fewer differences.