Supply of both bok choy and kale looks to be ample and steady. “There are no major gaps in availability. With the weather cooling down and less wind, quality has improved with darker and fuller leaves, less insect pressure/damage and better yields,” says Megan Ichimoto of San Miguel Produce Inc.

While both types of green vegetables are available year-round, the winter harvest started later this season due to the heavy rains at the beginning of the year that caused summer programs to finish later than usual.

Growing regions
Right now, San Miguel Produce is sourcing greens from a few regions including Northern Mexico, Southern California and Central California. “Growing conditions have been steady and our growers expect a normal winter season with good yields,” says Ichimoto.

As for demand, the holiday season typically brings about an increased interest in Southern comfort greens like collard, mustard and turnips. “We expect to see an increase in kale and bok choy as New Year’s resolutions and Lunar New Year celebrations begin,” says Ichimoto. “We typically see an increase in hearty salads served during holiday celebrations and used in a variety of applications post-New Year for the “diet season” when many consumers look to making healthier food choices.”

While in recent years, kale saw increasing popularity with consumers, Ichimoto says that interest has somewhat leveled off though dark leafy greens continue to be a staple in diets and menus for their nutrient density and culinary versatility. “We have recently seen increased demand for our de-stemmed green and Tuscan kale items where the middle has been removed. These items are great for salad applications and provide increased yield and reduced labor for foodservice customers,” she says.Foodservice applications
Earlier this summer, San Miguel Produce also launched its 2 lb. Jade Shanghai bok choy, a washed and wok-ready pack size of heads of bok choy that’s designed for club stores and foodservice operations.

As for pricing, compared to last year, this year kale is in excess supply though prices are slightly up. “Bok choy prices are high due to increased demand,” says Ichimoto.

Looking ahead, as long as the weather cooperates, a steady supply of all dark and leafy greens this winter is expected. “As we look to Lunar New Year in February and as Asian cuisines and flavors continue to trend, we see consumers look to cooking Asian vegetables, like bok choy, at home in more mainstream ways,” says Ichimoto.

For more information:
Megan Ichimoto
San Miguel Produce Inc.
Tel: +1 (805) 488-0981