Fennel out of California is coming to the end of its harvest weeks.
The supplies from Salinas, Ca. are coming in steadily and look similar to the volume that came in last year at this time. “We do plan for our supply volume to ramp up as we prepare for Thanksgiving demand,” says Gabriella Besaw, fennel commodity manager for D'Arrigo California. “Fennel has become increasingly popular as a Thanksgiving specialty item so we planted to meet that need.”
As the Salinas Valley wraps up harvest, production will transition to Yuma, Ariz. in early December. “Fennel producers mainly grow in the Salinas and Santa Maria Valleys for most of the year. Then product is grown in either Imperial or Yuma areas from approximately December through March,” adds Besaw.
Meanwhile there is a shift in demand for fennel. “In the past, most of our fennel demand had come from the East Coast and Canada,” says Besaw. “Those are still very strong areas of support for this item. However, its popularity is expanding into all areas of the U.S., especially on the West Coast. Momentum will continue to grow in other areas over the coming years.”
Social media spike
She also adds that the increasing culinary trend is also boosting support for this unique vegetable. “We continually see new recipes developed in restaurants, popular magazines and over social media particularly,” says Claudia Pizarro-Villalobos, director of marketing and culinary for D’Arrigo California.
Overall though, the item generally sees slight price fluctuations throughout the season. “They’re typically related to peak demand times surrounding the holidays,” says Pizarro-Villalobos.
Looking ahead, Pizarro-Villalobos says that Thanksgiving demand and promotional activity are stronger than anticipated in all three client areas: foodservice, retail and wholesale and adds that Christmas demand is also building.