Organic Garlic Sales on the Rise

Gilroy, Calif.-based Christopher Ranch grows conventional and organic garlic, said Ken Christopher, executive vice president.

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Sales of organic garlic are on the rise.

Organically grown product now accounts for more than 8% of retail garlic sales, according to The Packer’s Organic Produce Market Guide 2020.

In 2019, volume increased 12.1% over the previous year, and sales rose 13.7%.

Bruce Klein, director of marketing for Maurice A. Auerbach Inc., Secaucus, N.J., said he has noticed an upward trend in sales of organic garlic for the past 10 years.

The company sources organically grown garlic from California, Mexico and Spain.

Demand is up this year in particular as consumers choose organic items over conventional because they feel it’s safer, he said.

And they’re looking for packaged garlic.

“Rather than picking through bulbs in bins, they’ll pick a packaged item,” he said.

Gilroy, Calif.-based Christopher Ranch grows conventional and organic garlic, said Ken Christopher, executive vice president.

“Every year we’re expanding our organic program as a percentage of our total sales,” he said.

“Ten years ago, organics might have been 5% of our business, today it’s closer to about 12%.”

The company is finding that consumers are gravitating toward a higher-end, premium organic product, he said.

Orlando, Fla.-based Happy Veg Inc. sells organic garlic loose, in net bags and minced in a tube, said Louis Hymel, partner and COO.

“Organic is very popular,” he said.

“People believe they’re eating a little healthier when they have organic items,” he added. “It’s a growing segment within the food industry for sure.”

Bakersfield, Calif.-based The Garlic Co. has had an organic program for 15 or 20 years, said Joe Lane, an owner of the company.

The Garlic Co. produces mostly peeled garlic for processors and foodservice operators.

Demand has been increasing a bit each year, he said.

Buyers want peeled product that is further processed as an ingredient in various food items, Lane said.

Source: The Packer, August 2020
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Christopher Ranch’s Annual 2020 Garlic Harvest Begins

As the nation’s largest domestic fresh garlic grower/packer, Christopher Ranch is a family-owned agribusiness with an over 60-year tradition of supplying the finest garlic products to retail and foodservice customers. Proudly located in Gilroy, the “Garlic

Capital of the World,” Christopher Ranch ships over 100 million pounds of fresh California heirloom garlic annually. To learn more about Christopher Ranch California heirloom Garlic and other products, visit www.christopherranch.com.

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GILROY, CA – Christopher Ranch, the nation’s premier garlic company, announced that its annual 2020 harvest has officially begun, with the first truckloads from the field being delivered this week. The company is adding shifts at its Gilroy facility to increase production capacity, packing up to 1 million pounds of fresh garlic every week to ship to grocery stores and distribution centers across the country.

The 2020 COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in unprecedented levels of demand for fresh garlic. Shelter in place guidelines have resulted in a national shift in consumption of garlic, disrupting inventories and forecasted supplies.

Ken Christopher, Executive Vice President of Christopher Ranch, stated, “The COVID19 crisis has been a real game changer for the domestic garlic industry. It’s been difficult trying to maintain national supply lines, so the timing of our new crop couldn’t be better. We’re focused on rebuilding inventories, and getting our All-American garlic back out there to our customers.”

As an essential business, Christopher Ranch and it’s 1,000 strong work force, have remained in operation during the national pandemic. Christopher Ranch is committed to providing the freshest, most flavorful and food-safe garlic available. Consumers can expect to see the new crop of California-grown garlic in their local grocery stores over the next few weeks.

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About Christopher Ranch LLC

As the nation’s largest domestic fresh garlic grower/packer, Christopher Ranch is a family-owned agribusiness with an over 60-year tradition of supplying the finest garlic products to retail and foodservice customers. Proudly located in Gilroy, the “Garlic

Capital of the World,” Christopher Ranch ships over 100 million pounds of fresh California heirloom garlic annually. To learn more about Christopher Ranch California heirloom Garlic and other products, visit www.christopherranch.com.

Source: Perishable News, June 2020
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Christopher Ranch Takes New Approach to Social Media

Jill Lerman and Ken Christopher visit with the elephants at Monterey Zoo in a video highlighting Christopher Ranch’s donations to elephant conservation efforts.

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As the decade turned but the scars of the Gilroy Garlic Festival shooting the year before still lingered, Christopher Ranch realized that Gilroy needed something to smile about again.

With people stuck in their homes as the COVID-19 outbreak grips the world, laughter and hope is needed now more than ever.

In January, Christopher Ranch launched a social media campaign that covers everything from the silly, to the serious, the educational and the just plain “WTF,” as online terminology puts it.

Ever wanted to see the ranch’s executive vice president Ken Christopher as the host of The Price is Right? Then check out the legendary game show’s probably short-lived spinoff, The Spice is Right, streaming now on Christopher Ranch’s Facebook page.

Or how about getting a garlic-themed workout in with Clovefit, starring the ranch’s spokesperson Jill Lerman?

People can also wake up to the latest garlic news with the Garlic Morning Show, led by anchors Christopher and Lerman.

Christopher said the ranch’s social media went dark following the July 28, 2019 mass shooting at the Garlic Festival. But it realized it needed to portray hope to the distraught Gilroy community, and began posting content that helped further the “Gilroy Strong” message.

“It was incredibly hard on my family, and it was devastating to the community,” said Christopher, whose grandfather Don was one of the founders of the festival. “We thought it violated something that my family has built and championed for decades.”

But around January, the message evolved.

“We realized this community needs to smile again,” Christopher said.

All of a sudden, in between the garlic recipes and Christopher Ranch history, posts of Lerman showing viewers how to do push-ups with a bag of garlic on their backs began popping up. Soon after, Christopher, rocking a muscle shirt, demonstrated how to make a garlic protein smoothie using way too much garlic, salmon and liver (spoiler: thanks to the magic of editing, Christopher didn’t actually drink the shake. But he did eat the raw egg yolk, he insists).

“We decided, let’s get out of our own skins and let’s have fun with this,” he said.

Lerman, Christopher noted, is the “consummate professional.”

“She’s willing to do anything and everything to promote California-grown garlic and my family,” he said.

The ranch also posts videos showing highlights from previous years of the Garlic Festival, meant as a lead-up to the 2020 event.  While the festival has been postponed to 2021 due to COVID-19 concerns, the message remains the same.

“We have to remember the warmth and fun of the festival,” Christopher said.

Christopher Ranch has gone all-in on its social media. It brought on Gavilan College film instructor Tim Ahlin as its multimedia director, and has purchased a variety of professional filming and editing equipment that allows it to shoot its content in 4K high definition resolution.

The small team spends hours planning, filming and editing the movies. Previously, Christopher Ranch hired media consultants to film its videos highlighting the ranch, but having an in-house team makes the operation much more efficient, Ahlin said.

“Having an onsite team makes us versatile,” he said. “We’re able to turn a video the day of.”

Perhaps more importantly, such high-definition videos will remain with the Christopher Ranch family for generations to come.

“These are critical investments,” Christopher said. “They’re not just one-offs for social media. They will live with my family in perpetuity.”

While Lerman studied drama in London, Christopher doesn’t have much acting experience beyond some community theater performances in his childhood. But he explains his “natural talent,” as Ahlin puts it, quite simply.

“I’ve always been a big ham for the camera,” Christopher said.

To view Christopher Ranch’s social media posts, visit facebook.com/thechristopherranch or on Instagram @thechristopherranch.

Source: Gilroy Dispatch, April 2020
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Don Christopher named 2019 Produce Marketer for All Seasons

The Packer's Tom Karst (left) presents the 2019 Produce Marketer for All Seasons award to Bill Christopher of Christopher Ranch on Oct. 18, who accepted the award on behalf of his father Don Christopher. ( The Packer )

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ANAHEIM, Calif. - The Packer has named garlic giant Don Christopher the 2019 Produce Marketer for All Seasons.

Christopher, 85, who founded of Gilroy, Calif.-based Christopher Ranch in 1956, wasn’t able to travel to the Produce Marketing Association event this year.

Editor Tom Karst presented the award Oct. 18 at the Christopher Ranch booth at the PMA expo floor.

Don’s son Bill Christopher, CEO of Christopher Ranch, accepted the award on behalf of his father and the entire Christopher family.

“My dad was never afraid to take risks and he was always the first one to try something new,” Bill Christopher said.

In his remarks, Karst praised Christopher’s great contributions to the industry and to his community.

After starting out growing only 10 acres of garlic, Don Christopher guided Christopher Ranch to be a world-leading garlic marketer, Karst said.

“He was the industry pioneer for pre-peeled garlic, and the discovery that garlic could be peeled using compressed air revolutionized the industry and led to dozens of new products for Christopher Ranch,” Karst said.

Don Christopher has been an outspoken leader in defense of U.S. growers and in 1994 testified to the US government to investigate illegal Chinese garlic activity and successfully petitioned to get a stiff tariff on Chinese garlic.

The accomplishments of Don Christopher and Christopher Ranch go far beyond produce marketing, Karst said.

With the late Rudy Melone, Don Christoper launched the Gilroy Garlic Festival in 1979. That first year, Karst said the festival drew a crowd of 15,000. The community-focused event has since drawn millions of fans and has contributed untold sums to community efforts.

This year, after the tragic shootings at the festival, Karst said the community’s individuals and companies have donated over $1 million to the recovery and support efforts following the shootings.

In 2015, Christopher was awarded the Glenn George Heart of Philanthropy Award on National Philanthropy Day by the Association of Fundraising Professionals.

“Our winner’s involvement with the community is truly bigger than life,” Karst said.

In the early 1990’s, Don Christopher partnered with the federal government to build California’s first public/private Headstart preschool. Christopher Ranch maintains the facility to this day and the government provides instructors.

“He did this to benefit the children of economic migrants that came to Gilroy for employment,” said grandson Ken Christopher, executive vice president of Christopher Ranch. “He knew that when kids fall behind in their formative years, theres a very real risk that they won’t catch up. This preschool let’s our community’s kids be ready for kindergarten on day one.”

Don Christopher donated the land that was needed to build Gilroy’s second high school, which the School District named Christopher High in his honor.

Don opened his first endowed fund with the Gilroy Foundation in 2002 and he also opened a designated fund for Christopher High School in 2008.

Don and Karen Christopher and Christopher Ranch also do pass-through giving of grants and scholarships through the year through the Gilroy Foundation. The largest one was the building of the

“Don Christopher Sports Complex” at Christopher High School, which cost over $4.5 million, over $4 million of that was funding from Don Christopher.

Christopher Ranch has distributed $700,000 of community grants through Gilroy Foundation, while Don and Karen Christopher have run over $200,000 in community grants through the Gilroy Foundation.

Christopher Ranch, combined with Don and Karen have awarded over $800,000 in scholarships to graduating high school seniors, according to the Gilroy Foundation.

“Christopher Ranch is a family-run business that promotes local farming and supporting their employees and our community,” said Donna Pray, executive director of the Gilroy Foundation. “Don Christopher and the Ranch are true supporters of our community.”

Robert Verloop, chief operating officer and general manager of Salinas-based Coastline Family Farms, said Don and the Christopher Ranch family represent the best about the produce industry.

“They have a tremendous product and they have pride in their product, and that pride, that sense of value, transcends all areas,” he said, noting the company’s close-knit family relationships and employee loyalty.

“The community has benefited greatly from the philanthropic efforts that Don and his family and the entire organization have done,” he said.

Verloop said Don Christopher and Christopher Ranch have not done good works for their own attention, but because it is the right thing to do.

“They are part of the roots of the community that their people come from, and the community they serve,” he said. “Those are values that inherent within the produce industry.”

The Packer’s Produce Marketer of the Year and Marketer for All Seasons awards, dating to 1972, are awarded at the annual Produce Marketing Association convention.

Source: The Packer, October 2019
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The markets think the trade war stinks

A California garlic grower disagrees

A lot of people think the trade war with China stinks.

But one Bay Area business is breathing easier: Christopher Ranch, the nation’s largest commercial garlic grower, which stands to gain from a 25% tariff the Trump administration imposed on Chinese garlic and other goods this month.

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A lot of people think the trade war with China stinks.

But one Bay Area business is breathing easier: Christopher Ranch, the nation’s largest commercial garlic grower, which stands to gain from a 25% tariff the Trump administration imposed on Chinese garlic and other goods this month.

“This is a unique moment,” said Ken Christopher, the executive vice president of the Gilroy company, who said he was “elated” when the news was announced. A photo on the ranch’s Facebook page shows Christopher celebrating by jumping in a bin of garlic skins and throwing them into the air like confetti.

It’s been a long, hard road for U.S. garlic growers, who have struggled for years against Chinese competition. For Christopher Ranch, a previous heyday came in 1993, when it grew 100 million pounds of garlic. But Chinese garlic soon flooded in, and only now is the company producing 100 million pounds again.

In the meantime, the number of American garlic growers has shrunk, from 12 commercial garlic farms in the 1990s to three today, according to Christopher, who estimates that 30% of garlic eaten in the U.S. is produced by China and 30% by his family’s company.

In September, President Trump slapped a 10% tariff on garlic arriving from China. That helped. But it was the 25% tariff that got Christopher excited.

With 1,100 employees, Christopher Ranch is the largest employer in Gilroy, which calls itself the “garlic capital of the world.”

“Garlic is the key identity of the city,” Christopher said as he showed off his garlic processing center. “It’s just part of our DNA here.”

Christopher Ranch is heavily focused on the U.S. market, with 90% of its garlic staying in the country. It exports a limited amount to countries including Mexico, Canada and Japan.

Despite Gilroy’s claim to being the garlic capital, Christopher Ranch grows only a few hundred acres in Gilroy. The rest of its approximately 5,900 acres of garlic fields are in the Salinas Valley, in the Modesto area and near Fresno.

After harvest, the garlic is trucked to Gilroy, where it is kept in cold storage. It is also cleaned, cracked, peeled and sometimes roasted there, and Christopher Ranch controls everything from the seed selection process to the sale to retailers.

“At any moment on the continent, this will be the most garlic you’ll find,” Christopher said of his operation.

The Stinking Rose, a San Francisco restaurant known for its garlic-centric dishes, buys only California garlic because of its consistency and reliability for the restaurant’s dishes, according to restaurant co-owner Dante Serafini. The restaurant orders more than 50 tons of garlic per year to supply its San Francisco and Beverly Hills locations with garlic.

“California garlic is the most consistent,” Serafini said. “It’s got the taste that we could predict the most of any, because when you’re cooking and you’re using this much garlic ... you want it to taste the same all the time.”

The Stinking Rose buys garlic from suppliers whose garlic originates from Christopher Ranch or the Garlic Co. of Bakersfield, another commercial grower.

“We have to take the best product, California products on the market, that’s why we go with the reliable people,” Serafini said. “That’s why we don’t shop for price.”

Before the 10% tariff enacted in September, Chinese garlic cost $15 to $20 per box, while California garlic was about $50 to $60 per box, according to Christopher. Now, with the 25% tariff Chinese garlic will be $40 to $45 per box, he said.

The prices of Chinese garlic will rise more than 25% because some shippers will restrict their exports, Christopher said in an email.

“The tariff really has a one-two punch in that it raises prices due to lack of supply,” he said. “We anticipate that even more Chinese shippers will choose not to sell to the U.S., further increasing the likely price of that garlic.”

Christopher hopes his company can increase its market share while the tariff is in place. In August, he went to Washington to urge the International Trade Commission to introduce a 25% tariff.

Christopher and other growers believe China’s export prices for garlic give its exporters an unfair advantage. Chinese shippers, he told the commission, “continually sell their garlic in the U.S. market at prices below their cost of production,” thus causing “tremendous financial damage to American garlic producers.”

This underpriced garlic first flooded the market in 1993, Christopher said, and despite duties that were soon slapped on, it has continued to arrive cheaply. In a 2016 report, the Government Accountability Office said that $577 million of imported garlic avoided duties — and while it didn’t specify which country or countries failed to pay the duties, it did note that China was responsible for 95% of the unpaid duties for a long list of products, including garlic.

The Chinese Consulate in San Francisco did not respond to a request for comment.

Garlic originated around 3,000 years ago in central Asia and was transported by caravans to other parts of the world, according to Eric Block, an emeritus professor of chemistry at University of Albany, State University of New York and garlic historian. China has extensive experience in growing the crop and is a major exporter.

“It’s enormous,” Block said of China’s market share for garlic. “They export 80% of all garlic in the world. They’re by far the largest exporter of garlic, and the United States is by far, I believe, one of the largest importers of garlic.”

Christopher expects that his company won’t feel the effects of the tariff until late this week and says he anticipates a surge in demand for American garlic.

He hopes the trade war may spur people to start asking where their food is coming from.

“There’s relief for our industry and also an ability to get the message out,” he said.

Source: San Francisco Chronicle, May 2019
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Third time’s a charm for 41st Garlic Queen

Meet the Garlic Queen

The third time was definitely a charm for proud Gilroy native Kiley Kuwada, who is already enjoying the special moments since being crowned the Garlic Queen of the 41st annual Gilroy Garlic Festival back in May. '

For the Christopher High School alumna (class of 2016) and former Christopher Ranch employee, the opportunity to represent the Garlic Capital is one she will hold dear to her heart.

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The third time was definitely a charm for proud Gilroy native Kiley Kuwada, who is already enjoying the special moments since being crowned the Garlic Queen of the 41st annual Gilroy Garlic Festival back in May.

For the Christopher High School alumna (class of 2016) and former Christopher Ranch employee, the opportunity to represent the Garlic Capital is one she will hold dear to her heart.

“It’s been great to be able to represent Gilroy so far,” said the 20-year-old Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo

senior who enjoyed being part of Gilroy’s Memorial Day Parade and taking her royal court of nine pageant winners on a tour of Christopher Ranch. “It’s been really, really awesome. … A lot of my duties haven’t even started yet. That comes at the Garlic Festival.”

The famed Gilroy Garlic Festival will be held July 26-28 at Christmas Hill Park, where Kuwada will greet festival goers, hand out cooking competition hardware, make appearances on music stages and be the ultimate ambassador for her hometown.

“As the queen and court, we walk around the festival and get to interact with the patrons,” said Kuwada. “That’s my favorite part.”

Kuwada, daughter to Christopher High School Assistant Principal Eric Kuwada and CHS school counselor Marah Kuwada, won the Garlic Queen pageant on her third and final attempt.

“Getting up on stage during the crowning, I didn’t have any expectations of winning. I enjoyed every moment of the pageant. I put my best foot forward. I was excited for any one of us to win,” said Kuwada, who had previously been a member of the queen’s court. “I was completely shocked. I feel so lucky and humble. We all could have won. It’s such an amazing, competitive group.”

Kuwada got a taste of representing her hometown while in high school when she was one of eight students selected as an ambassador for the Gilroy-Takko Student Exchange Program. In that capacity, she visited Takko-Machi, Japan.

“That’s what made me really want to be queen. I really enjoyed being an ambassador for Gilroy while I was in Japan,” said Kuwada. “I really enjoyed representing Gilroy. I know that small-town feeling and how special it is. Going away to SLO, I got an even stronger appreciation of Gilroy and how special it is.”

Growing up in the Garlic Capital, Kuwada has fond memories of attending the Garlic Festival with family and friends.

“I’ve definitely attended the festival my whole life. I lived close enough to walk,” said Kuwada, who also volunteered in several capacities including a memorable post in the famed Gourmet Alley. “Being in high school and growing up in Gilroy, you would volunteer for your organization or club and the festival would give back.”

Kuwada was awarded the $1,000 top prize from the Gilroy Garlic Festival Association as well as a $10,000 scholarship from Christopher Ranch. She was also awarded the Past Queen and Past President scholarships valued at $400 and $800 respectively.

Kuwada’s favorite festival munchies are the pasta con pesto and garlic bread. She was especially jazzed about the enhancement of garlic-bread-to-go this year.

“I’m very excited and honored to represent Gilroy at the 41st Gilroy Garlic Festival,” Kuwada said, “and making so many memories in those days with the rest of the court.”

The rest of the 2019 royal garlic court includes First Runner-Up Lilly Higgins, Second Runner-Up Lauryn Longoria, and princesses Amaya Leyba-Guerra, Simran Sihra, Jennesa Andrade, Katie Van Horn, Brianna Budelli, Raeanne Ceballos and Gisselle Oliveira.

 

MEET THE GARLIC QUEEN

Name: Kylie Kuwada

Age: 20

Hometown: Gilroy

High School/Class: Christopher High School/Class of 2016

College/Major: Cal Poly SLO/Environmental Management and Protection major with biology minor

Source: Gilroy Dispatch, July 2019
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Christopher Ranch donates to Gilroy schools to clear student lunch debt

Ken Christopher, executive vice president of Christopher Ranch, last month presented Gilroy High School principal March Sanchz with a $15,000 check to cover student account balances for food services.

This followed a similar gift, for $5,000 that the local garlic producer gave to Christopher High School.

“Regardless of ability to pay, all children deserve good food to nourish their bodies, hearts and minds as part of our school community,”

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Ken Christopher, executive vice president of Christopher Ranch, last month presented Gilroy High School principal March Sanchz with a $15,000 check to cover student account balances for food services.

This followed a similar gift, for $5,000 that the local garlic producer gave to Christopher High School.

“Regardless of ability to pay, all children deserve good food to nourish their bodies, hearts and minds as part of our school community,”

the district said in a statement. “Thank you, Christopher Ranch, for your unending care of our schools and students. Gilroy is better because of you.”

“This one thing that you can do that has an immediate impact—to clear student lunch debt,” said Christopher in an interview. “In a world where there is even a chance of children going hungry, if there is a chance of that, if we can do a gesture like this, we want to do it.”

He encouraged other business owners and individuals in the community to consider similar donations to other local schools. “There was no red tape; the school district was very helpful,” said Christopher.

Source: Gilroy Dispatch, March 2019
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Christopher Ranch expanding organic program

Gilroy Dispatch

With a long, six decades-plus family tradition of working with garlic, Christopher Ranch is a leading grower, packer and shipper of California garlic for the fresh market. It has more than 5,000 acres of row crops including garlic, Bell peppers and shallots.

As Christopher Ranch prepares for its upcoming garlic harvest, behind the scenes, the Gilroy, CA-based company is working on updating its website, and that’s just one of the things those at the company are excited about this year.

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With a long, six decades-plus family tradition of working with garlic, Christopher Ranch is a leading grower, packer and shipper of California garlic for the fresh market. It has more than 5,000 acres of row crops including garlic, Bell peppers and shallots.

As Christopher Ranch prepares for its upcoming garlic harvest, behind the scenes, the Gilroy, CA-based company is working on updating its website, and that’s just one of the things those at the company are excited about this year.

Later this month, a large contingent of Christopher Ranch employees will head to Monterey for the annual PMA Foodservice Conference, a favorite show among those at the company.

“This show is so important for Christopher Ranch — and we have been participating since the onset — as we see our valuable foodservice customers including both restaurant operators as well as distributors,” said Patsy Ross, marketing manager for the company. “It also gives us the opportunity to meet with potential new customers or new employees of customers we are already doing business with.”

Operating booth No. 907, the company will have numerous employees in attendance, including Eric Kraus, Los Angeles warehouse manager; Jason Minici, foodservice sales in Los Angeles; Anthony DeAngelis, director of the Northeast division; and Rick Dyer, foodservice and institutional sales.

“Attendees of the Expo can expect to see Christopher Ranch’s new crop of California Heirloom Garlic, California Shallots, Pearl Onions, Cipolline Onions, Roasted Garlic cloves and Organic items,” Ross said. “All of our items offer the foodservice customers quality, dependability, year-round availability and unsurpassed food safety adherence.”

Meeting with other growers and shippers is always a great learning experience for Christopher Ranch employees, as they can discuss challenges and solutions and share ideas and best practices. It’s always a great time to talk about the latest buzz in the industry.

“Organics continue to be a hot topic many of our customers want to discuss, and we are expanding our organic’s program annually and are thrilled to offer California Organic Garlic all year round,” Ross said. “The summer months are very exciting for us here at Christopher Ranch. It’s not only our harvest time, but time for the annual Gilroy Garlic Festival, so we are very busy but having a lot of fun.”

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Christopher Ranch seeing big numbers with organic heirloom garlic

Gilroy Dispatch

Although Christopher Ranch is based in Gilroy, CA, the 63-year-old company has always looked to expand into more domestic markets, which is why having a distribution facility in Pompano, FL, is important.

“It gives us the ability to have a foothold in the Southeast as roughly 10 percent of our sales are currently concentrated in this area, and we’d like to continue to expand that footprint,” said

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Although Christopher Ranch is based in Gilroy, CA, the 63-year-old company has always looked to expand into more domestic markets, which is why having a distribution facility in Pompano, FL, is important.

“It gives us the ability to have a foothold in the Southeast as roughly 10 percent of our sales are currently concentrated in this area, and we’d like to continue to expand that footprint,” said

Ken Christopher, a third-generation garlic farmer and executive vice president of Christopher Ranch. “Many in the South are accustomed to jarred garlic, which offers a very different flavor profile, so in offering fresh California garlic year-round to these customers, it’s our hope that more and more consumers will start to demand fresh California garlic, which is our wheelhouse.”

 The company grew more than 10 million pounds of organic heirloom California garlic this past year, and it’s quickly becoming Christopher Ranch’s most exciting category.

 “We’re seeing sales growth in the low double digits year after year, which is fairly uncommon in a mature industry like agriculture,” Christopher said. “Both peeled and fresh organic California garlic numbers continue to grow, and we anticipate another 10 percent increase in demand for 2019.”

 Christopher admits the first three quarters of 2018 were somewhat challenging, noting Chinese shippers were illegally dumping garlic in the U.S. to the tune of tens of millions of pounds, artificially distorting the U.S. garlic market, and many wholesalers and retailers started looking at cheaper international garlic options instead of American growers.

 “Thankfully, since September 2018, the U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer has slapped a brand-new tariff (paid up front, upon arrival) on all Chinese garlic,” he said. “This has caused our sales levels to return to normal, as Chinese shippers can no longer engage in duty evasion schemes that defraud the U.S. government.”

 Still, he said, in Pompano, it’s a constant battle to push back against illegal imports as they are prevalent in the state of Florida.

 “Pompano is unique to many other markets in that Latin American-sourced produce is far more acceptable than just about every other major market,” Christopher said. “We’re looking to focus on marketing our first-in-class food security program as well as the fact that we have the only organic seed in the country to differentiate. At the same time, we will be getting the word out that Christopher Ranch is the only wholly family owned commercial garlic farm in the country — it’s our bet that consumers will respond positively to that.”

 Another challenge is there’s an assumption that California garlic may only be seasonal or unavailable for some markets, and Christopher wants people to know that’s simply not true.

 “You have to continually engage in education with both produce buyers and end-users,” he said. “Whether through traditional or social media, we’re designing marketing campaigns to get the word out that there is an all-American solution to the Southeast’s and specifically Pompano’s garlic needs.”

 This summer, the company we will be rolling out all new packaging for its garlic items to further distinguish it from international competition.

 “In the past we sourced international garlic, primarily from Spain, Mexico and Argentina for 10 percent of our Christopher Ranch branded products, but 2019 is the first year that all Christopher Ranch branded products will feature 100 percent all-American grown garlic,” Christopher said. “We’re doubling down on our faith in consumers that they will support a company like ours that makes this commitment.”

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