Kale supplies out of the Northeast continue to be ample however demand has waned slightly.
“We’re in New York between Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York farms and we’re right in the heart of kale season. There’s plenty of availability—almost as if there’s a glut. I don’t see any issues with kale,” says Paul Guarino of Ace Natural, an organic food distribution business based in New York City. He adds that supplies are similar to last year at this time.
Guarino believes supplies will continue to stay strong until early December. “Kale is amazingly resilient. Local kale can handle the frost,” he says, noting that while Ace Natural switches to the West Coast for supplies over the winter, in the spring, it comes back to the East Coast for supplies from Florida and then moves north throughout the season.
Juicers and kale
Yet, demand has slowed somewhat on kale. “We don’t sell as much kale as we did even a few years ago. From 10 years ago, demand is still way up. But from two or three years ago, the foot is off the gas pedal a bit,” he says.
This is happening especially in juicing. “Juicing really moves our kale in high volume and our juicers are using less and less kale and using many other items. They’re getting really creative,” says Guarino. “It seems like just another item now.”
Yet, pricing hasn’t moved much and is similar to last year at this time. “Pricing has been rather stagnant over the last four years. I don’t know how much lower it can go and still be worth it for them to grow it,” says Guarino, noting that on a loose pack product of 24 count retail grade kale, pricing is in the low $20s.
However, once the switch happens out of local kale, pricing will likely push up over the winter.