After a bit of a perfect storm in the leafy green business, kale supplies on the East Coast particularly seem to be coming back online.
“This is a difficult time of year for us to get kale,” says Paul Guarino of Ace Natural, an organic food distribution business based in New York City. “We have been short and we’ve had product delayed. The whole business was delayed from the beginning.”
Normally, after local production ends on kale (Ace Naturals sources local product around New York and surrounding states such as Pennsylvania and New Jersey), Ace turns to suppliers in the southern U.S.—namely Florida, Georgia and North Carolina. “However over the last six weeks, after local production ended, Florida and other East Coast suppliers were delayed in planting,” says Guarino. “One of my farmers for instance mentioned he’d planted but got washed out from the hurricanes.”
The Romaine Effect
Add to that storm the romaine recall that affected much of North America in the late fall, further amplifying the need for kale. “It was a leafy green crisis,” says Guarino.
While Ace prefers to source close to home to minimize its carbon footprint, Guarino notes it did have to bridge the seasons with supplies out of California. “And California kale prices were through the roof high,” he says. “I’ve never seen it so high in all my years selling kale.”
Eastern suppliers back online
However that transition was short-lived and Guarino notes it’s back to receiving kale out of North Carolina. “Right now, the growers in Georgia and North Carolina say everything is fine again now,” says Guarino. “But those hurricanes that went through and the romaine issue, it created a real gap in supply.”
While West Coast prices were high on kale, Guarino notes that East Coast prices were strong as well and that pricing on both kale and romaine from the East Coast have yet to ease up.