Garlic has gone mainstream, and herbs are climbing toward that vaunted status, suppliers say.
“Our specialty is garlic, which is a foundation for many recipes,” said Louis Hymel, purchasing and marketing director with Orlando, Fla.-based Spice World Inc.
Garlic, perhaps, hasn’t reached onion-and-potato stature in the mainstream, but it has developed a strong following, said Patsy Ross, vice president of marketing with Gilroy, Calif.-based garlic grower-shipper Christopher Ranch.
“The garlic category is a small one but extremely important to most people who are into food and flavor, from the home chef to the white-tablecloth chef,” she said.
Frieda's Inc.Garlic has become mainstream, suppliers say. Elephant garlic has been offered at Frieda's Inc. since 1966. Fresh garlic can make “a big impact” on the flavor of many menu offerings, she said.
Some California growers, including Christopher Ranch, were in the early stages of their 2014 harvest in early July.
Ross said the current crop was shaping up well.
“Things are looking good, she said.
The harvest will continue until mid-September, Ross said.
“Yields this year are normal, which is up from lower yields in 2013,” she said.
Christopher Ranch anticipates shipping more than 70 million pounds of fresh California heirloom garlic this season, Ross said.
China remains the major source of garlic in the U.S., accounting for about 70% of supplies in the U.S. for the year, suppliers said.
Jinxiang County, the major producing area, is down about 10%, but surrounding growing areas are up, so the overall average is down about 7%, according to Jim Provost, a partner in West Grove, Pa.-based I Love Produce LLC.
Some of the reduction is due to less planting and some due to decreased yield, Provost said.
“But there is a large carryover from last year’s crop of about 300,000 metric tons,” Provost said. “Therefore the market is stable but may increase gradually as the storage garlic is consumed and new crop us stored for the next 12 months’ marketing.”
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 30-pound cartons of jumbo-size white garlic from California were priced at $50.50 July 3 on the terminal market in Atlanta, while the same product from China was $29-31.50. Cartons of four 5-pound plastic jars of peeled garlic from California were $48.50. Chinese product was $39.50-40.
A year earlier, 30-pound cartons of white garlic from California were $57. Chinese product was $40-45.50. Peeled garlic from California was $48-49; from China, it was $31-34.