Domestic celery supplies are about to slow down.
“For us, supplies have been pretty good to support the holiday demand. We’re actually lightening up going into the end of the year here. We’re going to be a little lighter for the next two to three weeks,” says Russ Widerburg of Oxnard, Ca.’s Boskovich Farms Inc. Widerburg notes that the weather is cooling down in Oxnard, Calif.--the growing region for Boskovitch’s celery--and the growing days are getting shorter which slows everything down. On top of that, the last few years haven’t been as lucrative in the celery markets so Widerburg believes growers were more conservative this year in planting the vegetable.
But the slowdown comes at a good time. “As holiday demand is starting to ease just a little bit, supplies are easing a bit at the same time which is a good thing,” Widerburg says.
Different from 2017
That’s a different picture from a year ago when warmer weather produced more celery in the holiday season. “Then we were in the middle of a $12-$14 FOB market instead of the $30 market we’re in right now,” says Widerburg. “The market is peaking in the low $30 range and there’s a bit of a retraction today. It’s a bit easier on the big sizes.”
Right now, along with Oxnard, celery is coming out Santa Maria, Coachella Valley and Brawley, Calif. Along with that, Yuma, Ariz. is also producing some celery and Mexico is exporting it as well. “This time of year though, I’d guess that 60-65 percent of the celery produced is out of the Oxnard area,” says Widerburg.
Looking ahead, Widerburg anticipates pricing to level off in the next few weeks. “Demand will lighten up a little bit after the New Year but with Christmas and New Year’s being back to back, we get a double whammy. Then the first week or two in January, demand is off a little bit,” he says. “But if everybody’s heavy with supplies, the market will regress a little bit. But if supplies are light, the market will ease down or stay where it’s at.”