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Strong garlic prices continue with no let-up in sight

Though California has been harvesting its new crop of garlic for the past couple of months, there has been no significant downward pressure on price and it doesn’t appear to be in the cards.

Bill Christopher, chief executive officer of Christopher Ranch in Gilroy, CA, said garlic has actually been in short supply for most of the time over the last couple of years, which is a reflection of decreased volume from China, the world’s largest global supplier of garlic.

“Right now the market has stabilized and I don’t think it’s going to come down any more,” he said in early August.

As a longtime grower and promoter of California garlic, Christopher is unabashed in his reasoning for the strong market. “The demand for California garlic is high. More and more people are switching to California garlic.”

He acknowledged that Chinese garlic does have its followers. “I do not know why, but some people do prefer the Chinese garlic.”

California firms typically harvest the new crop from June through September and then sell it from storage the rest of the year. Christopher said the market on organic garlic continued to be in a demand-exceeds-supply situation with absolutely no relief in sight.  

During this interview, the first full week of August, the longtime garlic salesman said conventional garlic was selling at a range of $1.50 to $2.50 per pound, while the organic market ranged from $3.50 to $4.50 per pound.

Jim Provost of I Love Produce in Kelton, PA, another longtime garlic importer and distributor, noted the strong market for garlic and opined that it appeared that it would not be dropping soon.

He said with the California fields in mid-harvest, one might expect to see a softening of the market, but that has not occurred. He added that there is less product available than he would have expected, which has kept the strong market in place.  

Christopher mentioned that there were some production holes. California had some very high temperatures in June, with some areas experiencing temperatures as high as 115 degrees, and that could have affected yields.

As a buyer of California garlic, Provost said at least one shipper that he utilizes noted shorter supplies.

A quick survey of the San Francisco terminal market price on conventional garlic in mid-August revealed a robust price of $70-$74 for a 30-pound carton. Organic garlic was almost impossible to find with one observer noting if you could find it, the price would be well above $100 per carton.