To best market garlic, retailers often offer several options to consumers, and in turn garlic suppliers have a variety of products.
Convenience items are popular, said Louis Hymel, director of purchasing and marketing for Spice World Inc., Orlando, Fla.
“Anything convenient when using garlic is what consumers are looking for, therefore, this brings a lot of attention to our Squeeze Garlic,” Hymel said.
“We introduced Squeeze Garlic three years ago and it has changed the way garlic is used, taking garlic from an ingredient to a condiment.”
Los Angeles-based World Variety Produce Inc. offers a peeled, refrigerated product, and elephant garlic, an extra large bulb with a milder flavor, as well as jarred, roasted and convenience items, said Robert Schueller, director of public relations.
Because garlic is so often used in recipes, the various offerings are about providing whatever garlic is right for each potential use.
“Garlic is a staple in most cultural cuisine, not just Italian. It’s used in Asian and all types of European cultures. There are just not many cultures that don’t use garlic,” Schueller said.
Patsy Ross, vice president of marketing for Christopher Ranch, Gilroy, Calif., agrees.
“The more diverse the area’s population is, the higher the garlic consumption. It’s a worldwide item,” she said.
Christopher Ranch also offers a large variety of garlic options.
“We offer garlic in a variety of ways, and every retail chain makes a choice depending on their market,” she said.
Garlic use seems to be on the rise, suppliers say.
“I think usage continues to go up,” said Joe Lane, partner in The Garlic Co., Bakersfield, Calif.
Usage also increases around the holidays.
“In the cooking months, garlic sales do tend to go up a bit, but we try to balance that with the harvest time of year because it’s freshest and better available so pricing is good,” Ross said.
Christopher Ranch also offers a Halloween display box, which plays on the legend that vampires don’t like garlic.
“It’s a beautiful display with the vampire joke, so it can be used in September and October, maybe even with a promotion,” Ross said.
Competition is a trend in the market.
“Our biggest competition is with China, and unless Chinese garlic is really short, their price is usually below ours,” Lane said.
“China had a very large crop, about 30% more than the previous year. Therefore, we expect to see the quantity of Chinese garlic that enters the U.S. market increase,” Hymel said, referencing that the price difference between domestic and imported garlic will be larger this year.
“Production costs in California continue to increase, making it impossible to compete against a surplus Chinese crop,” he said.
Still, there’s demand for domestic and imported garlic in the U.S.
“There seems to be a two-tiered market that’s developed. People care more about more food safety and full traceability, so that seems to be working in our benefit. More and more people seem to want the California garlic,” Lane said.
The competition from China has limited the amount of exporting garlic suppliers do.
“With China on the world market, they have taken most of the opportunities we had for export,” Lane said.