Company raised minimum wage now has waiting list of applicants

Garlic market is tight, supply coming from cold storage

Current turbulence in the Chinese peeled and fresh garlic market is creating a tight market. “That’s causing a tight market to become even tighter for all countries of origin, (including) product of Spain, Argentina, and USA,” said Ken Christopher, Vice President of Christopher Ranch. “We’re really seeing a surge in demand for our product.” The company offers whole heirloom garlic, peeled and chopped garlic in oil ad grows about 5,000 acres of garlic.

Ranch says there’s definitely a preference for garlic grown in the USA. “It’s everyone’s first choice but due to the California garlic shortage last year, even though we had a good yield this year there was a big hole to fill.” Crops were good but Ranch said they had to fill the hole first, and then carry on with normal sales. “That leaves us in a fairly tight position too.” Focus is currently on getting major customers everything they need. He doesn’t feel there’s a near end in sight for the tight market; garlic is being pulled out of cold storage. 

Looking into the future Christopher is looking into automation that companies in Europe currently employ. “We’re not looking to substitute our workforce but we want to do more with the workforce we have,” he said. Europe has had high labor costs for many years but he says since they’re a bit ahead of the curve, he wants to see what the next generation of technology looks like when it comes to Ag produce. 

For the last couple of years there’s been a labor shortage in the state. As of January 2017 Christopher Ranch raised its minimum wage from California’s $10.50/hr. rate to $13/hr. They’ve pledged to raise it further to $15 by next year. In doing that they got a surge of applications. “We now have surplus of labor as a waiting list,” he said, adding that about 600 of their 900 employees are impacted by our minimum wage increase. “The primary goal was about corporate social responsibility. We know the cost of living in the central coast of California has skyrocketed. We wanted to find out what’s the best we could do for our employees across the board to make sure they had a better standard of living.”

For more information:

Ken Christopher
Christopher Ranch
Ph: 408-847-1100

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