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Ocean Mist is prepping for busy holiday season

By
Keith Loria

Ocean Mist Farms enjoys a reputation for growing the highest-quality artichokes, as well as other delicious and nutritious vegetables that are enjoyed by families on special occasions. That means the upcoming holiday season has the leaders and staff of the Castroville, CA-based firm gearing up for big things.

“That’s our Super Bowl for us,” Joseph Angelo, director of sales for Ocean Mist said as Thanksgiving approached. “It’s the time for us where demand is the strongest, and that is followed immediately by a transition where we’re moving all the crops from the Salinas growing season out to Coachella and Yuma. It’s a busy time of the year for us.”

While artichokes are the company’s staple crop, Angelo said demand is high for all types of produce, and that Ocean Mist is ready to fulfill that demand with an excellent supply of vegetables.

“Right now, we’re working out of two growing regions, we’re in Castroville as well as Oxnard, CA,” Angelo said. “We have just transitioned iceberg lettuce out to Huron, Castroville is now done. We have very good volume on artichokes, Brussels sprouts production is really ramping up, and that’s by design because there’s Thanksgiving demand there, and celery is going to start ramping up as well.”

While COVID-19 has made 2020 a very different year, Ocean Mist is looking to a busy fall and winter, as families are expected to cook at home during the holidays, starting with Thanksgiving. Even if extended families don’t get together for huge celebrations, people will likely cook at home in order to enjoy some semblance of tradition.

“Everything has been so unpredictable over the last five, six, seven months, but that’s where our thoughts are,” Angelo said. “With limited options as far as dining out — that’s going to be tough in some parts of the country because of colder weather—we are anticipating that most families will be cooking at home. It will be interesting to see how that affects demand at the retail level.”

Ocean Mist does some foodservice business, which Angelo said is bouncing back, but there is uncertainty because outdoor dining won’t be an option when much of the country experiences winter temperatures. He said Ocean Mist’s ability to adjust has been a key factor to its success.

“Being flexible and nimble has always been important in produce and now with COVID-19, it’s even more important than ever,” Angelo said. “We’re seeing a lot of unpredictable buying patterns so it’s about being flexible and understanding that there are a lot of unknowns right now.”

Another reason for Ocean Mist’s success at the retail level is that people want to eat healthily as they cook at home more.

“Health seems to be a main focus,” he said. “It’s always been a focus for some households but it’s even more of a focus now because people are eating to stay healthy.”

Angelo noted that Ocean Mist’s success is rooted in its commitment to providing customers with consistent quality and supply, including in its organic offerings.

“Obviously, organic has its challenges on the production side, being more vulnerable to pests and disease,” he said. “But we’re able to minimize that, keep a consistent supply and consistent quality, which as challenging as Mother Nature has been over the last year or two, if we can maintain that consistent supply and quality, that breeds confidence with our partners.”

 

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