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Bok choy production gets a boost in California

Bok choy production in California has seen strong advances in recent weeks. This is due to the warmer weather which has stimulated growth at an otherwise slower time of the year. Growers in Ventura County have seen more moderate conditions, but still seasonably warmer than average. 

"Our bok choy production is centered in Ventura County, California," said Garrett Nishimori of San Miguel Produce. "The rich soil and mild climate of the beautiful coastal Oxnard plains along with the moderate coastal conditions of Ventura County, provide an ideal year-round farming climate for all types of greens, including bok choy. As we approach the spring (flower season), the plants tend to want to bolt (go to flower then seed). We have had a very dry and warm winter so some early bolting has been a challenge."

Demand good, and not just for Lunar New Year
Last week marked Lunar New Year celebrations, which traditionally see a spike in demand for Asian produce. Generally, the bok choy market is quite stable. However, Nishimori noted that fresh produce is a major part of Chinese New Year celebrations, with big family meals being a strong and traditional pastime and that promotions and a good supply is key.

"Bok Choy is a niche crop so we don’t typically see large fluctuations in market pricing," he said. "Asian food is trending and a large part of Asian cuisine is centered around fresh produce items like bok choy. The Chinese New Year, in particular, is often celebrated with family and cultural traditions centered around a family meal (often at Chinese restaurants) with a 10+ course meal. Customer education and product availability are an important aspect of a successful Chinese New Year."

Focus on improved packaging and ease of use
As part of making Bok Choy more accessible and attractive to households, San Miguel Produce said they have been working on a number of improvements in response to consumer demand. One of these is packaging, where they are now using different bags, which they say increases freshness of the produce. "We have retooled our Jade Asian Greens packaging into micro-perforated bags to increase freshness and value to the consumer," Nishimori explained. "The Jade Asian Greens line includes Baby Bok Choy and Baby Shanghai Bok Choy. We currently have the only washed and wok ready bok choy on the market."

This builds on what the company already has in terms of ready-to-use produce. Their 'Cut 'N Clean' Greens line, for example, has been around for over 20 years. These types of products are becoming more attractive to a market where people are increasingly busy and don't seem to have the time for meal preparations from scratch. 

"Cut ‘N Clean Greens is our cornerstone brand that includes a variety of washed and ready to use dark, leafy greens," Nishimori said. "This brand was the first washed and ready to use cooking greens in a bag back in 1995. With a focus on health and nutrient density, Cut ‘N Clean Greens make for a convenient option for consumers to eat greens more often."

For more information:
San Miguel Produce
Tel: +1 (805) 488-6461

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