Ray Cunanan Details A Stabilizing Celery Market and Strong Program for Pacific International Marketing
SALINAS, CA - Come rain or come shine, the hardest working and most dedicated in our industry ensure that retail shelves are stocked and plates are fully-loaded, no matter the time of year. Pacific International Marketing is amongst this top tier of committed growers. Keeping its customers at the forefront of health, wellness, and sales, Pacific is helping to elevate the celery category this spring despite the familiar volatility provided by Mother Nature.
“During the current COVID-19 pandemic, Pacific International Marketing has maintained a strong retail presence. The different formats we produce give the retailer several options that have been proven to be profitable,” Celery Commodity Manager Ray Cunanan, shares with me. “Our ability to address the increasing demand for bulk and value-added packs allows us to maintain and leverage a thorough buy-side program.”
Conventional celery is currently being grown and harvested in Yuma, Arizona, and Santa Maria, California, with the bulk of Pacific’s volume in the desert region. To supplement its winter supplies, Pacific grows and harvests product in Santa Maria year-round as a hedge against possible weather disruptions or quality issues in the desert. Cold morning temperatures in early December put Pacific approximately two and a half weeks late in starting the desert crop.
As we move through the first part of February, Pacific is reporting that celery supplies are improving as the industry distances itself from the rains and cold morning temps of the desert.
“We’ve just experienced a period of elevated market prices and we are seeing a slight easing of FOBs,” Ray says. “Prices to this point have been better than expected this winter. Unseasonably early cold temps in the desert and above normal late fall rains in Florida created strong demand and prices for California and Arizona celery.”
To help respond to the individual needs of its customers, Pacific’s celery varieties vary for growing regions and ranches. Pacific’s innovative and forward-thinking team is also constantly performing trials on different varieties to determine which lend themselves best to the needs of customers. Whether that be sticks, hearts, naked or bulk, time of year, or weather and ground conditions, Pacific is always looking downfield to anticipate challenges and solutions that its partners will gravitate toward.
“As we look to the spring months, retailers should get ahead on building celery programs. Promotable supplies are available with a suitable lead time. Obviously, despite our best-laid plans, weather conditions come into play shortening and sometimes closing those windows, so it is important to keep the dialogue open with our customers to invest in the best opportunities we can cultivate,” Ray tells me.
For a quick glimpse into the range of product options that Pacific offers, the company is currently shipping celery sticks in both foodservice and retail packs, as well as celery hearts with 18 x 1 lb packing specs and 16 x 3 count options with minimal waste and maximum convenience. In addition, Pacific is showcasing naked and sleeved celery—geared for retail displays—bulk sticks, and naked bulk packs for processors.
With celery roots firmly planted and a hat tipped at innovation, Pacific International Marketing is building a map for success throughout February and beyond.