Feb 21, 2023
Organic artichoke production primed to pick up
The next few weeks may prove to be a good time to stock up on organic artichokes, with growing supply expected to lead to lower prices.
One veteran produce industry marketing executive told Organic Produce Network that increasing volume will soon lead to promotional pricing.
Mark Munger is senior director of marketing for Ocean Mist Farms in Castroville, California, the nation’s leading supplier of both organic and conventional artichokes. In mid-February, he was expecting supply to explode on the company’s winter artichoke acreage, located in the desert region of the Coachella Valley.
“It is a fantastic time to promote both organic and conventional artichokes,” Mark Munger told the newsletter OPN Connect. “The price on organic artichokes is typically pretty steady, but to move this winter volume, we are going to be aggressive marketers.”
Munger said organic artichokes move well in retail promotions, helped by attractive pricing, displays and multiple pack options. He said offering artichokes in bulk as well as in two- and four-count packs is a key cog in Ocean Mist’s marketing strategy.
Munger said this year’s winter crop is on the large side, averaging between an 18- and a 24-count size.
Organic artichokes represent 5% to 8% of Ocean Mist’s total volume, Munger said, and the company is continuing to add organic acreage.
Southern-California headquartered Melissa’s Produce also supplies organic artichokes year-round, but that supply is tighter because the company does not source from a desert production region. Instead, it grows year-round in Salinas and Castroville.
Director of Public Relations Robert Schueller said that a strong winter market is dropping, with the FOB price on a case of organic artichokes as high as $48.
“Right now, a case costs $34,” he said in mid-February. “Typical pricing during peak of the season is $26.”
Schueller said the organic artichokes being offered by Melissa’s presently are “frost-kissed” and relatively expensive due to cold weather and recent rains in California’s coastal growing regions.
“However, by late March we will have good volume and ad pricing available,” he told OPN Connect. “For the most part, organic artichokes are year-round, with August–October being the best time to promote for quality and pricing.”
Dick Peixoto, owner of Lakeside Organic Gardens LLC in Watsonville, California, also foresees tight artichoke supplies until spring, when coastal California’s peak shipping period picks up.