Bad weather conditions in California won't leave garlic aficionados hungry this season as most suppliers already source product from other growing regions.
 
These regions include China, which Jim Provost, president of West Grove, Pa.-based I Love Produce, said is having a normal crop this season. China grows 70% of the world's garlic, he said.
 
In addition to California and China, I Love Produce sources garlic from Spain, which Provost said looks to have a good quality and size garlic in this harvest.
 
The California yields were affected because it was not cold enough during winter and too much rain fell during the harvest. “This will result in a shorter supply and higher prices but product will still be good,” he said.
 
Supplies in the Golden State also were affected for garlic and spice distributor Spice World Inc. in Orlando, Fla., said Louis Hymel, purchasing and marketing director.
 
Spice World predominantly offers California-grown garlic, so it had to increase its imports from Spain.
 
“The drought conditions in California are changing many things in agriculture,” Hymel said. “However, with some untimely rains during the harvest, some of the crop has incurred some staining. Even though consumers prefer stain-free bulbs, the meat of the cloves is not affected.”
 
Patsy Ross, vice president of marketing for garlic grower-shipper Christopher Ranch in Gilroy, Calif., said the company added a few growing areas in California to its normal locations in the San Joaquin Valley, Gilroy, Hollister and Monterey County due to restrictions on water usage in the normal growing areas.
 
“We have had some issues this harvest due to such a mild winter,” she said. “Some of the garlic didn’t form into bulbs and we are experiencing loss up to 50% in some of our fields.”
 
Ross said yields should accommodate customers’ needs this year. Quality is good and, so far, demand for the garlic remains steady, he said.
 
Robert Schueller, director of public relations for Los Angeles-based World Variety Produce Inc., which markets under the Melissa’s brand, said volumes look normal for the company’s year-round supply of garlic, which includes Elephant garlic and black garlic.
 
The supply of specialty black garlic from Korea looks good, he said. Black garlic makes up less than 1% of the garlic market but has been gaining popularity at high-end retail stores and Asian markets since being introduced in the United States about six years ago.