The supply of fresh herbs has been steadier than this time than last year. “The supply is good presently, the weather has been good in the main growing areas such as Florida, Texas, Mexico, and Colombia, and let’s hope that continues into next year,” says Camilo Penalosa of Infinite Herbs. “The supply is steady and coming in more smoothly with not too many hiccups.”
At the same time, demand has increased slightly for fresh herbs. For Thanksgiving, a higher fresh herb consumption holiday, particularly of sage, rosemary, and thyme, the pull was greater by between five and 10 percent in the main herb crops. “We will see now what happens for New Year’s and Christmas. Also, because the weather has been good, the supply has been available,” says Penalosa, adding that for winter months, parsley, sage, and rosemary demand is good, as well as demand for chives and cilantro, all fresh herbs used in dishes such as dips.
As for pricing, the prices have been steady since January for fresh herbs. “We’ll just have to wait and see what’s going to happen at the beginning of next year with inflation. Most of the time, salaries and fertilizers take the hit at the beginning of the year based on government decisions, so in January, we’ll know if things will remain the same,” he says, adding that he expects a slight increase of at least five percent in pricing. He also notes that if the oil barrel prices change, this can also create economic changes in the industry in freight and packaging.
In the category of fresh herbs, Penalosa also notes a recent development in that some vertical farms could be retracting their fresh herb acreage. “People have realized that there are a lot of hardy herbs that don’t grow fast to make it profitable for vertical farming. A lot of those farms are converting from herbs to leafy items like lettuce,” he says. He adds that given some of the headlines being made by vertical farms this year staying in business, a lot are trying to reinvent the business to determine what can be grown in those vertical farms that are profitable. “Their costs are still high, and it’s a business that’s still being invented.”