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Christopher Ranch sees strong garlic opportunities in organic program

By
Keith Loria

Christopher Ranch is among the nation’s largest garlic growers, and while it does ship a variety of products, garlic represents more than 90 percent of its business.

“Garlic has come a long way in that it’s evolved from being more of an exotic spice to being the consequential additive to nearly every meal,” said Ken Christopher, executive vice president of the Gilroy, CA-based company. “At Christopher Ranch, we’re planning on growing over 100 million pounds of conventional and organic garlic, guaranteeing our customers an All-American program from coast-to-coast.”

The Christopher family has been farming in California since the 1880’s, but it wasn’t until 1956 that company patriarch Don Christopher struck out on his own and planted his first harvest of just 10 acres with garlic. Since that time, three generations of the family have worked to promote, champion and expand California’s stinking rose to more and more garlic lovers nationwide.

“Over the course of several years, Don Christopher discovered that the secret to success is in diversity of product,” Christopher said. “Whether it’s fresh garlic, peeled garlic, organic garlic, roasted garlic, crushed garlic or even pickled garlic, Christopher Ranch has become the preferred supplier of our pungent bulb. In offering a diverse suite of goods, the Ranch can focus our sales across retail, foodservice, and industrial customers.”

Like so many farms, Christopher Ranch dealt with the shocks of an evolving produce marketplace at the onset of the pandemic.

“We’re proud that we were able to stay nimble and adapt our production to tailor to the market’s needs,” Christopher said. “While the markets for foodservice peeled garlic quickly deteriorated in March of 2020, we’ve seen a steady resurgence in demand from all customers across all sectors.”

When it comes to garlic, the biggest opportunity for the company’s continued growth lies in its organic program.

“Consumers on both the east and the west coast continue to prefer an organic solution to their garlic needs,” Christopher said. “We work with our retail partners to continually bring home the message of the importance of championing American farmers and U.S.-grown produce. Given the option, American consumers will always choose domestically-grown produce, but they can only do so with the proper education or signage at the store level.”

At the retail level, the company’s 6-ounce vacuum sealed pre-peeled garlic continues to perform well year after year.

“Today’s consumers are looking for convenience, and this pack gives them the opportunity to enjoy just the right amount of California heirloom garlic for the food they’re preparing for them and their loved ones,” Christopher said.

Christopher Ranch’s 2021 harvest is under way right now, and early indications are that it will be strong enough to support the increased demand that it’s been experiencing since the onset of the pandemic.

“Most excitingly, our organic program looks to be our most robust in company history, which will limit our dependence on alternative sources,” Christopher said.

 

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