(UPDATED 2 p.m.) From hurricanes in the southeast to wildfires and Santa Ana winds in California and rain in Texas, weather and natural disasters have greatly reduced the availability of collard greens in the holiday season.
Grower, processor and shipper of leafy greens WP Rawl, Pelion, S.C., reports that hurricanes Florence and Michael had the indirect effect of heavy rains and winds during a three-week period in the east and southeast. The weather led to a challenging growing season and stunted crops, including collard greens, according to a news release from WP Rawl.
Because of the weather and the Thanksgiving demand, growers in different regions harvested fields earlier than usual, leading to a lack of supply as the holiday demand heats up, according to the release.
“After the Thanksgiving holiday and unseasonable weather, our crops did not recover to the level we had in years prior,” Ashley Rawl, vice president of sales, marketing and product development, said in the release. “Our team made a collective decision to delay harvesting for a few weeks to allow our crops the opportunity to grow.”
San Miguel Produce, Oxnard, Calif., reported this is only the second time in two decades that the greens industry has seen such a national shortage.
“Most times shortages are regional and there are options to work with colleagues around the country to help fill gaps,” Jan Berk, owner and chief operations officer of San Miguel Produce, said in a news release. “Unfortunately, we have called other growers the past few weeks hoping someone might have extra or recovered sooner than expected … only to hear they are short too and looking to source collards.”
Growers have been pushing crops with additional fertilizer to spur growth for Christmas demand, according to San Miguel Produce, but there is still concern about availability to meet demand. It is peak season for the dark leafy greens category, according to the release, and many growers have invested in crops for many months to prepare for the season’s harvest.
Growers are encouraging retailers to educate consumers about the low supply of collards, which are associated with comfort and prosperity, according to the release, making them high in demand around the holidays. Retailers should promote other greens in the place of collards, according to WP Rawl and San Miguel.
“We consider this a great opportunity to encourage consumers to try other types of leafy greens,” Rawl said in the release. “With similar nutritional profiles, kale, mustard greens, and turnip greens are just as good for you and have similar tastes.”