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Holiday Brussels sprouts supplies could be short this year

Brussels sprouts are in the midst of transitioning back to one of their key growing regions, Washington. “It’s the shift from growing them wherever you can to where they should be grown for the fall/winter crop. Sprouts are geographically specific. While the market will always take a certain amount year-round, when you get into the holiday season, the more traditional Brussels sprouts eating season, only the areas really suited for them produce the volume you need because the quality is a lot better,” says Tony Wisdom of Skagit Valley Farms and Valley Pride Sales.

He notes that overall supplies are slightly down compared to last year at this time and that the region is starting a week to 10 days later than normal, largely due to the cooler and wetter spring Washington experienced.

As for demand, it’s likely to pick up soon. “It’s still so hot everywhere that people haven’t really shifted to eating winter food. The demand is not quite as strong as it normally would be at the beginning of October. I expect that to change in the next week or two as fall finally begins to set in everywhere,” Wisdom says.

Brussels evolution within restaurants
That said, foodservice demand is up notably over last year given restaurants are back open and consumers are eating out again. “Their popularity continues to increase. For a long time, they were an item to only buy in-store. Then we started seeing them in restaurants as an appetizer and now they’re also a side dish,” he says. “There are also a lot more Brussels sprouts being shredded into bagged salads as an alternative to lettuce because the nutrient value is higher and the shelf life is longer.”

However, the unpredictability of COVID last year may have had an effect on this year’s acreage. “It’s possible there are some slight acreage reductions because growers weren’t sure about foodservice last year. They weren’t sure if, geographically, some regions would be putting restrictions back in place so we could see a bit of short supply over the holiday season,” says Wisdom.

As for pricing, it’s softer right now but Wisdom notes that’s largely because of demand. “When the weather changes, that will increase demand and we’ll get firmer pricing,” he says, noting pricing does need to be stronger this year due to increased cost inputs on the grower and shipper sides of the business.

For more information:
Tony Wisdom
Skagit Valley Farms and Valley Pride Sales
Tel: +1 (360) 428 2717  

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