Duda Farm Fresh Foods Details a Tight Celery Market
SALINAS, CA - From seed to snack, celery is one category that continues to lead the fresh vegetable sector. The team at Duda Farm Fresh Foods knows a thing or two about this stalky veg, and recently took a beat with me to pull back the curtain on its impressive program.
“We are currently in the middle of the Oxnard, California, celery harvesting season, which generally runs from early November through early July,” said Dean Diefethaler, Vice President of National Operations. “Additionally, the Yuma, Arizona, season for celery harvesting is just getting started and will continue through mid-March. Belle Glade, Florida, is also in mid-season production of celery and will run through the end of April.”
Aside from these regions, Duda also grows in Salinas, California, and Byron Center, Michigan.
Rick Alcocer, Senior Vice President of Fresh Sales, explained that current FOB markets are in the $30 range across growing regions in Florida, California, and Arizona. Compared to the typical expectations for January, markets are currently two and a half to three times higher.
The quality on Duda’s celery is good from all areas in production, while the consistency of supply has presented challenges this season.
“The weather this past fall has generated concerns for all current production areas. Starting on the East Coast (Belle Glade), heavy early rains throughout the fall combined with extreme high temperatures caused a disruption to the planned startup, which was set for early December. On the West Coast, we’ve come through one of the warmest fall seasons on record,” Rick told me. “We are now experiencing more normal weather consisting of cooler temperatures and shorter day lengths as we move into and through the winter months.
This fluctuation in weather has led to a maturity gap between celery supplies, and volumes are anticipated to remain below planned levels until this gap is closed. With all of that in mind, Duda reports that the celery market is currently tight with less overall available supplies than normal. However, the markets are exaggerated primarily because of a much higher demand than normal for the month of January.
“We typically experience the added demand of New Year’s diets and the promise of eating healthier, the ongoing sports venues of college football playoffs, NFL playoffs and the Super Bowl, and the beginning of the national hockey season,” Rick continued. “COVID regulations and restrictions placed on workout/exercise facilities have contributed significantly to an increase in healthy eating. We are also seeing celery juicing becoming more popular again. We expect to see lighter demand in February, which is normal.”
As the market continues to shift across all fresh produce categories, you can count on ANUK to bring you the latest.