Supplies of specialty root vegetables look consistent as the domestic season hits its peak. "Supplies are steady and the overall quality looks very good," says Ande Manos with Babé Farms Specialties, Inc. in Santa Maria, CA. Manos adds that supplies of the root vegetables (including beets, carrots, kohlrabi, turnips, radishes, celery and parsley root) are comparable to last year’s season.
Manos notes that the products are mostly grown year-round in the Santa Maria Valley on the central coast of California, with select vegetables grown by partner growers in Baja. "The competition now is mainly from Mexico and other seasonal growing regions in the US,” says Manos. “But the growing window in most summer growing regions is quite short so competition can be short lived."
The effect of consumer trends
Meanwhile the root vegetable—once considered largely wintertime fare and the base of soups, stews and more—are seeing an increasing in interest from consumers in the summer. "Consumption continues to build as we see the popularity of vegan and vegetarian entrees on the menu where meat items are exchanged for hearty root vegetables," says Manos. "In addition, the trend of eating from root-to-stem is broadly expanding the way consumers purchase and prepare their root vegetables and other produce."
With increasing demand, pricing on specialty root vegetables has also gradually risen. "Demand is good with the popularity of colorful specialty root vegetables on the menu-– radishes, beets, carrots, turnips, kohlrabi, etc.," says Manos. "In addition, the majority of our elite customer base are brand loyal and willing to pay for a label recognized for consistent quality."
New radish product
Adding to this increasingly popular category of vegetables, Babe is introducing a new radish variety, the French Violet, which is petite and cylindrical in shape. "It's like the French Breakfast radish, but it's a brilliant violet color that transitions to a white tip. It’s a perfect addition to our collection of fancy radishes," says Manos.