“This year with our baby beets, we increased the plantings a little bit. Volume is up by about 20 per cent,” says Ande Manos with Babé Farm Specialties in Santa Maria, Ca.
And after 2016’s rains, Babé also has beets planted in better farming grounds. “We’re at an advantage as we have them planted on some of our best root vegetable farm ground, so we anticipate a good winter with beets,” says Manos. “Last year we had a lot of rain and this year we’re better positioned in well drained ground. If we do encounter heavier than average rainfall, we’ll be able to get back into the fields relatively quickly. There have been a few years in the past where the beets suffered through the winter weather conditions, but this year looks really promising.”
The quality of the beets looks good as well. “We’re seeing nice generous bunches and the sizing and shape is uniform,” Manos says. “Our weather has been very mild so far. Often when you get consecutive cold overnight temperatures, it stunts the growth and the root vegetables can get a bit disfigured but right now the quality is beautiful and availability is excellent.”
Meanwhile demand continues to build for the item given the Thanksgiving holiday and beyond that. “I’d say we’re seeing a gradual increase in demand,” she says. “Reds are always popular and golds too. Striped beets are probably in third place, but during the holiday season we see a bump in demand for the stripes because they’re also known as “Candy Cane beets.” Once cut open, it reveals brilliant red and white striping which makes these festive beets popular for Christmas dishes.”
All of this leads to pricing that Manos characterizes as “agreeable” and on par with 2016’s prices.
While Christmas is when the retail push for beets comes on, New Year is when the foodservice industry is angling more for them. “And I think we’ll see increased sales as we head into the holidays,” she says. “It just keeps on rolling until after the first of the year and then you see things drop a bit. But then it starts to ramp back up as we move towards Valentine’s Day.”
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