US producers warn of national collard greens shortage

WP Rawl, a grower, processor and shipper of leafy greens in the U.S. said it was greatly impacted by various weather related national disasters contributing to a shortage of collard greens for the upcoming holidays.

The Southeast experienced heavy rains and winds over a three-week stretch from indirect impacts from two major hurricanes that made landfall on the Atlantic and Gulf coasts during key stretches of the fall growing season. As a result, Southeast growers faced challenging growing conditions that led to stunted growth in many crops, especially collard greens. Texas also had significant rains this year reducing their crop yields and West coast growers faced challenges such as strong Santa Ana winds and wild fires that created severe quality issues including scarring and torn leaves reducing yields.

Growers were forced to enter their fields earlier than desired to harvest due to the weather challenges as well as demand for the Thanksgiving holiday. Most leafy greens growers are very concerned as this is peak season for the category and growers work and invest in plantings for many months to prepare for the holiday seasons’ harvest.

“After the Thanksgiving holiday and unseasonable weather, our crops did not recover to the level we had in years prior,” stated Ashley Rawl, vice president of sales, marketing and product development. “Our team made a collective decision to delay harvesting for a few weeks to allow our crops the opportunity to grow.”

The company says that during the holiday season, collard greens are associated with comfort and prosperity, making them both nostalgic and in high-demand for holiday dishes this time of year. Growers encourage retailers to educate consumers about the possible shortage of collard greens in their stores and to help educate consumers on the various other dark leafy greens they can substitute in place of collards such as kale, mustard greens and turnip greens.

“We consider this a great opportunity to encourage consumers to try other types of leafy greens. With similar nutritional profiles, kale, mustard greens, and turnip greens are just as good for you and have similar tastes,” said Rawl. “In an effort to keep fresh leafy greens part of holiday meals, we have provided recipe inspiration featuring other greens to our consumers via our e-newsletter, blog and social media channels.”

Shortage extends to processors
San Miguel Produce, Inc., a grower and one of the nation’s largest fresh-cut processors of collard greens, said processors are also affected. “This is only the second time in two decades we have seen a major national shortage like this. Most times shortages are regional and there are options to work with colleagues around the country to help fill gaps,” said Jan Berk, Owner and COO of San Miguel Produce. “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.”

For several weeks growers have been pushing crops with additional fertilizer in an effort to enhance growth for the increased Christmas demand. However, as the rush begins for this season and weather conditions remain unfavorable across the country, there is still concern about availability to meet demand. It is peak season for the dark leafy greens category and many growers have invested in plantings/crops for many months to prepare for this season's harvest.

San Miguel said that traditionally, collard greens are in high demand this time of year for many holiday dishes. The company is encouraging retailers to educate consumers about the possible shortage of collard greens in their stores as well as to help educate them on the various dark leafy greens they can substitute in place of collards such as kale, chard, mustard greens and turnip greens.

For more information:
Christine Jackson
WP Rawl
Ph: +1 (803) 894-1900

Megan Ichimoto
San Miguel Produce
Ph: +1 (805) 488-0981

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