Christopher Ranch bringing the garlic to Hunts Point
Christopher Ranch offers 100 percent U.S.-grown garlic to its customers, delivering from coast- to-coast out of its Gilroy, CA-based headquarters and through its East Coast operations in New Jersey, with the company a regular at the Hunts Point Market.
The company has associated with many of the same customers in Hunts Point since it opened the New Jersey facility in 1992, and some of its customers there were with them before it established a facility on the East Coast.
“Aside from the size of the market, and the volume of product that moves through there, it is such a hub of variety for so many U.S. growers, vendors and buyers,” said Anthony M. DeAngelis, director of East Coast sales and operations for the company. “It’s deep history in the city, and the tradition of the family businesses that have maintained it over so many decades has made it a key go-to for the food trade both locally, regionally and even nationally.”
He noted that like many companies in the Northeast, growth hasn’t been as much the focus as sustainability over the last year.
“As a self-distributed grower, since we service all sectors of the industry, our focus remains on getting the right product to the customers based on changing demand and needs we have seen in the last year or so,” DeAngelis said. “For example, the foodservice sector in the NY/NJ/PA area has turned down and up, etc. at different intervals, depending on the regional impact of the pandemic on local government policy, yet the retail sector has been a constant.”
Still, he noted, each has different packaging and service requirements, so Christopher Ranch has had to adjust to the changes in service needed for the changing sectors of business.
“That is the best thing we can offer our customers right now, and we hope that leads to future growth once we can realize a rebound in the public health situation that gets us somewhere closer to normal someday soon,” DeAngelis said.
While business has been good over the last year, it hasn’t been the same.
“Some really good accounts just can’t do what they have done previously in this environment, and we have seen some unfortunately falter,” DeAngelis said. “Our retail business is up, and we have definitely also seen an increase in the sector that caters to home delivery, home meal delivery and the like.”
One challenge is the additional costs for everyone in running a business under such circumstances.
“We have had to assume additional cost to ensure safety for all employees, yet the new protocol is somewhat hindered in production capacity due to those changes,” DeAngelis said. “For example, you can’t increase machinery or building size just because we are spacing out our staffing, even if hopefully temporary, so it’s a different world everyone has had to realize.
When working with the people at Hunts Point, Christopher Ranch relies on service and supply for helping it to get ahead.
“From New Jersey, we go to Hunts Point three days a week, so we can be sure to get them what they need when they need it,” DeAngelis said. “Though many have upgraded and grown their facilities as well at Hunts Point, they don’t want truckloads of our product in their facilities for long-term storage given the other more perishable items they carry in volume, so we need to be able to get them what they need when they need it.”
Garlic has fared well through the pandemic, and retail demand for Christopher Ranch’s items has increased through the past year, as many rely on the inherent health and flavor aspects of garlic as part of their awakened concerns for holistic health, as well as increase home cooking opportunities.
“The Northeast generally likes the larger garlic sizes, Super Colossal and Colossal, but all of our California Heirloom garlic has the same great flavor and health aspects, no matter what size,” DeAngelis said. “Organic garlic demand continues to grow each year, as do organics in general, and we find that even while we grow more each year we still see demand outpacing supply for organic garlic.”
Looking ahead to the beginning of the garlic harvest in June, all at Christopher Ranch have hopes that there will be a reduction in the negative influence of COVID-19 on public health, and an abundant new crop of California Heirloom garlic.