Kale leads way for big holiday greens supplies

11/26/2013 09:37:00 AM
Andy Nelson

Courtesy L&M Cos. Inc.Trendy kale is helping drive large volumes of greens this season.

Walter P. Rawl & Sons Inc., Pelion, S.C., reported brisk movement of high-quality South Carolina-grown collards, kale and other greens the week of Nov. 25, said Ashley Rawl, director of sales, marketing and product development.

“We’re a little close on mustard and turnips with Thanksgiving pull, but no major issues — we have good supplies of collards and kale,” Rawl said. “So far, so good. The quality is very nice.”

Greg Cardamone, general manager of vegetables for Raleigh, N.C.-based L&M Cos. Inc., gave a similar report from Georgia.

“The quality has been excellent,” Cardamone said. “And there’s been good demand. Kale is the flavor of the month. We’ve had a lot of inquiries around kale, and mustard and turnips along with it.”

After Christmas, L&M expects to add Florida greens to its Georgia program, Cardamone said. The company added Florida to the mix as an insurance policy in case weather affects crops in one growing region or the other, he said.

Growing weather also has been excellent in California’s Ventura County, where temperatures have been mild, said Jan Berk, vice president of Oxnard, Calif.-based San Miguel Produce.

San Miguel sources kale, collards, mustard and other greens from Ventura County year-round, but production peaks around the holidays, Berk said.

With the intense interest in kale, that peak may actually be a bit high this season, she said.

“There’s a little too much on the market right now. Prices aren’t as good as they could be.”

Kale prices will likely stay low for some time, Berk said. Markets for other greens should be stronger, she said.

Rawl & Sons expects to ship greens from South Carolina through the winter, especially collards and kale. In early December, the company expected to begin shipping from Florida and Texas, too, Rawl said.

“We’ll have good volumes by mid-December” for Christmas and New Year’s, Rawl said. “Demand is really good. This is the greens time of year. Thanksgiving was a strong pull, and we expect the same for Christmas.”

Rawl expected greens markets to remain steady in December.

Rawl & Sons expects similar overall volumes of greens this season, but the mix has changed slightly, with trendy kale taking some, though not a lot, of acreage from other greens, Rawl said.

Excellent growing weather in the southeast has produced plenty of the good sizing retailers are looking for in greens, Cardamone said.


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