Ocean Mist® Farms' Art Barrientos and Duda Farm Fresh Foods' Rick Alcocer Discuss Holiday Celery Transition and Season
SALINAS, CA - Whether it is celery’s sweet raw crunch, its light clean flavor in a sauce, or the stalk's addition to a savory stuffing during the holidays—this veg is a staple at almost every table. As we get into the thick of a season of celebration, how could we not touch on celery’s status in the produce department and in the field?
Art Barrientos, Vice President Harvesting for Ocean Mist® Farms, and Rick Alcocer, Senior VP Fresh Sales for Duda Farm Fresh Foods, join me to share the latest.
“We are currently harvesting both conventional and organic celery in California’s Salinas Valley through November 23rd and will transition to the Coachella Valley and our winter growing regions around November 26th,” Art tells me, adding that the mild-fall temperatures have created ideal growing conditions in Salinas. “Quality conditions are excellent and expected to remain that way through the finish of our Salinas season and the start of the Coachella season. Our volumes have been right on budget for the holiday pull. We have a year-round celery program, in both organic and conventional, focused on quality and superior customer service.”
Ocean Mist notes current supplies are steady from Salinas with excellent quality through Thanksgiving and into the Christmas holiday period. Supplies are seeing strong demand, a hallmark of this time of year that Duda Farm Fresh Foods is observing as well.
Duda recently wrapped up its season in Salinas and has started harvest operations in Oxnard, California.
“Duda is one of a very few shippers that grows celery on both coasts during the Holiday season and well into April,” Rick shares with me. “While the fires just south of Oxnard are sending a tremendous amount of ash into the growing area, our team has quality control procedures and protocols in place to ensure that only the best quality product reaches our partners. The needs of our retail and foodservice customers are paramount during this holiday season, as they are throughout the year and we are excited to continue driving their produce department through 2018 and beyond.”
Rick adds that the warmer temperatures in Oxnard have caused the celery to mature earlier than anticipated, and although all celery shippers expect an increase in demand for the holiday pull, harvesting celery before planned harvest eventually opens up gaps down the road, but for now, all is well.
“We expect high, if not higher, markets for most of December due to an overall decrease in supplies as the season continues but demand continues to rise,” Rick reflects. “Duda continues to grow as a dedicated source, both in consistency and quality. With operations on both coasts and with freight rates projected to be very high again into the new year, it makes a lot of sense to source fresh celery from Florida in the winter and early spring if your customers/consumers are in the Eastern U.S. and Eastern Canada.
Sounds like a market to watch! Stay tuned to AndNowUKnow for more updates on holiday veg and the many more staples to grace your produce departments and tables.