California snow pea production light in May

Supplies of snow peas have been light for the start of the California season, as production has taken some time to increase. Taking over from Baja in April, Santa Maria is hosting the majority of snow pea production currently, as well as Guatemala. Growers are experiencing an increase in production now, and expect supplies to normalize into June. 

"Snow peas need moderate coastal temperatures, so Santa Maria has most of the production currently," said Armando Gonzales of Pea King Produce. "The weather has been great. We were not affected by any of the cold and rainy weather during February and March. It has been mild recently which the peas love. Supplies have been light in May, but will increase and be close to the average in June as the days get longer."

Market dropping as supplies increase
While supplies were lighter, prices remained relatively high. Demand was good, but is now easing back as production increases. 

"Demand was really good but is dropping now due to the increasing supply," Gonzalez noted. "Prices were high, with a 10lb case in the mid $20s. This has now dropped to the mid to low teens as more supply enters the market. This is expected to continue into June and is normal for this time of year."

Purple snow pea coming soon?
Value-added products is where the growth in the snow pea category lies, according to suppliers. Snow peas are often used as an ingredient in many of the convenient, ready-to-cook mixed vegetable products available. "Other than bulk, we sell a substantial amount for companies that add snow peas into things like stir-fry mixes and broccoli slaw," Gonzalez shared. "The ready-to-eat sector is where we are seeing the majority of the growth in the snow pea category."

Gonzales also mentioned that a purple snow pea is currently under trial. And while this variety is a long way off from any commercial production for the fresh market, it has been earmarked for use in restaurants. "A few companies are looking at doing a purple colored pea, primarily for restaurants," he said. "It is still in the trial phase now. Basically, it tastes the same and has the same texture as a regular snow pea, but with the purple skin."

For more information:
Armando Gonzalez
Pea King Produce
Tel: +1 (805) 349-0919

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