Ippolito International's John Landa and Bill Vargas Detail the Cauliflower and Broccoli Seasons
SALINAS, CA - Left to their own devices inside their homes, many consumers are finding new inspiration in classic categories and, as a result, are turning into bonafide culinary masterminds. Of these classic categories, none are riper for home chef innovation quite like cauliflower and broccoli, which is why I checked in with Ippolito International’s John Landa, Cauliflower Commodity Manager, and Bill Vargas, Broccoli Commodity Manager, to find out how the season is going and to see if I could glean any tips for retailers seeking to satiate consumer demand.
“Consumers continue to be energized about cauliflower,” John said, starting our conversation off. “Its versatility is what makes it a consistent winner. It’s important to keep shelves stocked with this vegetable, especially during a time when families are sheltering in place. This is a healthy, low-carb vegetable that can be made in very creative ways to please the whole family. We just began our Salinas season on April 13, so we’re hoping to help consumers and retailers have good supplies of cauliflower this season.”
John went on to explain how in spite of unexpected rain in late March and early April, Ippolito’s cauliflower quality is excellent, with its crews able to pack and ship according to plan. In terms of volume, though, the grower was on an upward trend prior to the pandemic. John asserted that Ippolito’s goal is to now have measured cauliflower production that paces nicely with demand, which will be reflected in its planting strategy for the summer.
“The market has been unpredictable, even for cauliflower. Our market is somewhat tight and, due to this vegetable’s popularity, we expect that to be the case for a while,” John continued. “With the wet and cool winter that we’ve had, the fields are a little bit challenging. However, the rain brings a boost in growth, and the quality reports we’re getting from the field and cooler indicate we’re in very good shape—not a bad way to start the season.”
Bill had a similar outlook for Ippolito International’s current broccoli season, which is in its third week in Salinas, California.
“Overall, we’re off to a strong start. Our broccoli is packing beautifully, with tight beads and gorgeous color. The Salinas Valley weather conditions seem to be working in our favor and our harvest team, Coast King, continues to pull through for us. As a result, Ippolito has strong supply, and it’s coming off earlier in the season compared to last year,” Bill explained. “Because of this, we now have promotable volumes, and our cut broccoli and cauliflower value-added sales are experiencing solid, continued growth. Our production has expanded to support this part of our business.”
And, like cauliflower, the broccoli market is more on the unpredictable side, with Bill noting it has fluctuated with robust markets at the beginning of April.
“We’re seeing much interest from customers looking for advanced pricing. As our Salinas and Santa Maria supply comes into play, there will be greater supply overall and price will reduce accordingly,” Bill said. “We’re excited for the season. Quality and overall production seem to be going well. In spite of the COVID-19 situation, and all the unknowns that go along with that, we’re confident in our team and are ready for another successful Salinas season.”
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Ippolito International is a second-generation farming company offering year-round supplies of premium quality Queen...