Western organic vegetables, especially leaf items, had a very good late-summer run, and it appears the hot market will continue through November, with no let-up until at least the start of winter production—and that might not even offer significant relief.
“The organic leaf market has been strong for over a month now, with markets ranging from high $20s to low $30s. We expect this to remain the trend through the Castroville season,” said Katie Tossie, organic commodity manager for Castroville, CA-based Ocean Mist Farms.
Katie Tossie, Organic Commodity Manager, Ocean Mist Farms
The strong market is also evident with other items, Tossie said. “We’ve seen very good markets on a number of commodities. The celery market is shifting up, and we expect to see a very strong market on this popular Thanksgiving commodity for the remainder of our Castroville production.”
There are several contributing factors that have led to the good markets, she said, including greater demand for California product as home-grown deals across the country end and lower yields created by pest and disease pressure as production winds down in coastal California.
“We’ve seen very good markets on a number of commodities. The celery market is shifting up, and we expect to see a very strong market on this popular Thanksgiving commodity for the remainder of our Castroville production.” -Katie Tossie
Ocean Mist is currently sourcing all its organic production out of Monterey County, and its transition to desert production is expected to conclude around Thanksgiving. “We plan on [transitioning] to Coachella over a two-week period starting the week of November 15 through November 22. Supplies will be largely dependent on Mother Nature,” Tossie said, adding, “We are well-positioned to support and meet our customers’ demands now through the holiday pull.”
Ocean Mist's two-count organic artichoke in recyclable clamshell
Discussing new opportunities for the organic buyer community, Tossie said Ocean Mist is offering a two-count organic artichoke pack, which is available in a recyclable clamshell or handle bag. The company’s organic winter asparagus deal will also be available starting in January through the middle of March.
Brian Peixoto, sales manager of Lakeside Organic Gardens, Watsonville, CA, confirmed that the organic leafy green market—including romaine, red leaf, and green leaf—saw a very significant bump in the last couple of months. “Demand picked up, and the supply wasn’t there,” he said. “Prices skyrocketed two to three times greater than they were.”
“We plan on transition to Coachella over a two-week period starting the week of November 15 through November 22. Supplies will be largely dependent on Mother Nature.” Katie Tossie
Lakeside will continue to source from the Pajaro Valley (which is near Watsonville at the northern end of Monterey County and the southern tip of Santa Cruz County) into November. The company will then transition to its Imperial Valley acreage around Holtville in the Southern California desert for winter production. Peixoto predicted that the strong market for organic vegetables would remain at least through the Thanksgiving holiday pull.
Brian Peixoto, Sales Manager, Lakeside Organic Gardens
Doug Classen, vice president of The Nunes Company, Salinas, CA, said the firm is in the final weeks of its organic deals in Nevada, and Salinas Valley production will be transitioning to Huron, CA, and then Yuma, AZ, over the next month, depending upon the commodity. “All markets are getting a little boost as we finish up and transition to our winter crops,” he said.
Doug Classen, Vice President, The Nunes Company
He specifically noted in Nunes's industry market report, dated October 13, that there will be “gapping on organic iceberg supplies for the next 10-14 days.” Also, broccoli is in short supply, with a strong market expected for the next several weeks.
Peixoto predicted that the strong market for organic vegetables would remain at least through the Thanksgiving holiday pull.
Vic Smith, President of JV Smith Companies, Yuma, AZ, is not expecting winter production to bring significant relief for either organic or conventional vegetable production in the short term. The organic vegetable industry did see good markets in September and into October, he said, which were a long time coming.
Vic Smith, President, JV Smith Companies
“Last year , we had a good market until Christmas. And then we had no market from January to August,” Smith said. “Many growers took huge losses. For this [winter] season, a lot of people have cut back.”
A review of the USDA Market News Report for the week of October 11 showed FOB pricing for organic broccoli crowns mostly in the high $30s, organic cauliflower in the low $20s, and organic romaine in the high $30s.