The green globe artichoke harvest on California’s Central Coast was expected to crest just before Easter and maintain promotable supplies going forward.
“We expect to have very good volume for April, May and June,” said Dale Huss, vice president of artichoke production for Castroville, Calif.-based Ocean Mist Farms.
As April began, a run of sunny days brought the crop welcome relief from a soggy March that saw more than 3 inches of rainfall in one week.
“We had some problems with water,” Huss said.
“The plants get too wet and can’t breathe. It’s like being in a swimming pool and breathing through a hollow reed.”
“But we’re off to a great start anyway. Volume really started to escalate (in the first week of April), especially with some nice weather.”
Artichokes were a $48 million crop in Monterey County in 2009, the most recent year for which statistics are available. There were 4,375 acres planted and a volume of 33,800 tons.
Ocean Mist is backing its artichokes with a series of marketing initiatives, including:
The company’s first consumer sweepstakes, “Easy to Make, Easy to Win,” began March 28 and runs through May 8. Shoppers are directed to a mobile site, m.oceanmist.com, to enter for a chance at the top prize of $10,000. Each week, 10 people will win a case of field artichokes.
In-store signs for the sweepstakes, a display contest and point-of-sale materials are available to retailers.
The contest is aimed at doubling the current membership of 10,000 in the company’s Artichokes Aficionados club, said Kori Tuggle, director of marketing and business development for Ocean Mist.
A “Where to Find Artichokes on Sale” webpage lets shoppers search for retail promotions by location.
Retailers active in social media pick up the posts and share them with customers, said Tuggle. The page got more than 10,000 weekly impressions in its first month.
A new field-packed artichoke carton with a revised graphic of the crop.
“That makes it easy to know what’s in the carton,” Tuggle said.
“During the spring, many retailers use (them) for their displays. We wanted to improve the look and messaging of the cartons this year.”
A quick response code is being added to all packaging and point-of-sale materials.
In Northern California, where fresh artichokes are popular, Ocean Mist plans to bring its message also to newspaper, radio and television.