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OPN Connect Newsletter 358 · February 15, 2024

Organic Artichokes Offer Winter Retail Opportunities


There are not a lot of vegetables in winter that can move the retail sales needle, but artichokes present outstanding opportunities, according to a pair of grower-shippers who are anticipating good volumes of organic artichokes over the next couple of months.

Mark Munger, senior director of marketing for Castroville, California-based Ocean Mist Farms, the leading volume supplier of both conventional and organic artichokes, said that in terms of both price and quality, February does not typically offer an overabundance of vegetable promotional options—“but we will have good supplies of artichokes.”

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Mark Munger, Senior Director of Marketing, Ocean Mist Farms

Ocean Mist’s winter production, coming from the Coachella Valley in Southern California, is entering its peak volume period for artichokes. “For the next four to five weeks, we will have our highest level of harvest and certainly enough for some winter promotions,” Munger said.

Winter production has been met with almost perfect growing conditions. There were several rain events, but they were spaced out favorably and did not hurt the rain-tolerant artichoke plants. In fact, they helped size the artichokes to the point that this year’s crop is skewing toward the larger sizes.

“For the next four to five weeks, we will have our highest level of harvest and certainly enough for some winter promotions." - Mark Munger

Vitalis April 2024

Munger noted that about 10–15 percent of Ocean Mist’s artichoke volume is organic, and the grower-shipper will have sufficient supplies for February/March promotions, though he wouldn’t speculate as to where the market price will be. There are a very limited number of suppliers of organic artichokes in the winter, which means the demand/supply curve and the market price are not easy to forecast.

Ocean Mist will be offering its organic artichokes in a variety of options, including bulk as well as 2- and 4-pack clamshells. Harvesters go through an artichoke field several times, with the first pass yielding a relatively large artichoke (12 to 18 size) off the main stalk. Subsequently, the plant will produce four or five or more auxiliary stalks, which typically produce smaller artichokes (18s, 24s, and 30s). The smaller artichokes are the ones usually sold in a 4-pack clamshell.

Munger said the different sizes give retailers more promotional and display options that fit their needs, with larger artichokes more prevalent at the early end of harvest and smaller artichokes playing a dominant role at the back end of the winter deal.

Building attention-getting large displays in the produce department is very important to drive sales. “We recommend multiple and visible displays; it’s the best way to communicate with the consumer,” he said. “Artichokes are an impulse buy (at retail).”

Drew Clowser, Marketing Manager, Lakeside Organic Gardens

Another grower-shipper with year-round supplies of organic artichokes is Lakeside Organic Gardens in Watsonville, California. Marketing Manager Drew Clowser reported that the all-organic company produces artichokes in both Watsonville and Southern California's Imperial Valley.

Homegrown Organic Farms April 2024

“Our artichoke harvest from Watsonville is very steady all year long. Our Holtville production will start in mid-February and run through March and into April,” he said.

Now in its fifth year of artichoke production, Clowser said the company works diligently to maximize its yield through its cultural practices and maintain a steady volume of product for its customers, which are located throughout the United States.

“Our artichoke harvest from Watsonville is very steady all year long. Our Holtville production will start in mid-February and run through March and into April." - Drew Clowser

"Lakeside’s California-grown organic artichokes are a consumer favorite,” Clowser said. “We are proud to offer superior quality in a superfood like our organic artichokes year-round."

Creekside Organics April 2024
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