Current supplies of romaine lettuce from California are slightly below anticipated volume.
“I’d attribute that to some cooler weather we had in the last week,” says Mark McBride of Coastline Family Farms in Salinas, CA. “It has just slowed the growth a little bit.”
McBride says Coastline just finished its Brawley, CA production and from here on in, all supplies are coming out of the Salinas Valley, a region that stays in production until Thanksgiving. Santa Maria, CA is also ramping up its production. “Our projections are for similar volumes to 2020. Compared to previous years, that’s down a bit and that’s related to COVID-19 affecting demand on all vegetables across the board. It hasn’t helped any item,” he says.
With the reopening of foodservice business happening across the country, Coastline has seen increased demand on romaine. “It’s good to see that portion of the industry picking up as well. We need to have all parts of demand functioning to ensure success. If anyone’s lagging behind, it leads to an imbalance in supply and demand,” he says.
With the reopening of foodservice business across the country, Coastline has seen increased demand on romaine.
The push for hearts
In the last three to four weeks, McBride does note that demand on romaine hearts is ahead of demand for whole head lettuce. “There are some changing tastes and preferences from customers,” he says. “Back in the day, it was all carton romaine. Now a lot of people do prefer the romaine heart pack.”
With the tighter supplies and increased demand, this leaves pricing on romaine strengthening. “There’s a seasonal demand too right now where people are coming out of the cold winter and getting outside more and watching what they’re eating too,” adds McBride.