There has been a solid supply of organic brussels sprouts recently, but demand has been variable across geographic regions, and some producers say the market is oversaturated.
Wholesaler Robert Lichtenberg of Earl’s Organic Produce, San Francisco, CA, touted his current supplies, which he is sourcing mostly from Guaymas, located in the southwest part of the state of Sonora in Mexico. “The organic brussels sprout crop is beautiful,” Lichtenberg told OPN Connect this week. “And we will have very good supplies well into April, and then we will move to baja [California].”
Robert Lichtenberg, Director of Purchasing, Earl's Organic Produce
The longtime director of purchasing for Earl’s said the company is handling traditional green organic brussels sprouts as well as a specialty organic purple brussels sprouts. It is offering the products to its customers in bulk and in a netted bag that is a ready-made retail pack.
“The organic brussels sprout crop is beautiful. And we will have very good supplies well into April, and then we will move to baja [California].” -Robert Lichtenberg
Lichtenberg said good supplies of brussels sprouts generally mean the f.o.b. price is at a good point for promotions. He said retailers looking for an organic vegetable to promote in mid-March through April definitely have a good candidate in brussels sprouts.
Earl’s is selling most of its supplies in the Northern California region as there are plenty of customers specializing in organics to consume their daily shipments.
Not feeling as positive about the crop but agreeing with the “good supply” characterization is Darrell Beyer, director of organic sales for Boskovich Farms in Oxnard, CA. He told OPN Connect on March 9 that he had about two weeks of harvesting still to go on the Boskovich organic brussels sprouts production, also in northern Mexico. Beyer indicated that the end of the season can’t come soon enough.
Darrell Beyer, Director of Organic Sales, Boskovich Farms
Beyer said 2020 was a solid year for organic vegetable markets, with January 2021 also seeing a continuation of a good supply-demand curve. but since the start of February—when some bad weather hit—Beyer said demand has fallen off precipitously, and the market price reflects that across the organic vegetable category. He said from a grower-shipper perspective, the volume that must be moved on a daily basis has made brussels sprouts a very tough sell over the last six weeks.
Darrell Beyer told OPN Connect on March 9 that he had about two weeks of harvesting still to go on the Boskovich organic brussels sprouts production.
However, Beyer did agree that organic brussels sprouts do offer a promotional opportunity at least through late March as far as his supplies were concerned. After the company’s Mexico deal ends, Boskovich will not have organic brussels sprouts again until late in the year.
Lakeside Organic brussels sprouts
Lakeside Organic Farms, which is headquartered in Watsonville, CA, with winter operations in the California desert, was also concerned about its organic brussels sprouts crop. “This season has not been the best for us in terms of organic brussels sprouts,” said Operations Manager Juan Gonzalez. “We saw a flooded market along with aphid pressure. In the next few weeks, we'll taper out of our Holtville ranches and will gap until the middle to end of June. Our best volume and quality is during the fall season.”
Juan Gonzalez, Operations Manager, Lakeside Organic Farms
The Lakeside field specialist said that brussels sprouts are one of the hardest crops to grow organically year-round. That concept was echoed by Beyer of Boskovich who said summer production is very difficult in the Oxnard Plains, which is where Boskovich has most of its California production.
“This season has not been the best for us in terms of organic brussels sprouts. We saw a flooded market along with aphid pressure." -Juan Gonzalez
Gonzalez said Lakeside has experimented with purple brussels sprouts but hasn’t found sufficient demand to offer them at this time.
The National Specialty Crops Organic Summary revealed that organic brussels sprouts on the San Francisco Wholesale Produce Market were selling for $17 per 10-pound-carton on Tuesday, March 9.