Fueled by consumer demand for fresh celery juice, prices for celery soared to more than $60 a carton in early April.
In California’s Coachella Valley, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported f.o.b.s for cartons of celery traded at more than $20 per carton in early January, rising to $32 per carton by early March, $45 by mid-March and more than $60 in early April.
Prices at the same time last year (in early April) were $8 to $12 per carton, according to the USDA.
Supply of celery has been running higher than last year. Season-to-date celery shipments from U.S. growing areas through March 30 were actually up 5% compared with a year ago, according to the USDA.
Tim Ross, director of regional sales for Duda Farm Fresh Foods, Salinas, Calif., said April 4 that demand has been fueled by a popular personality touting the benefits of celery juice.
So-called “medical medium” Anthony William in May is set to publish a book, “Celery Juice: The Most Powerful Medicine of Our Time Healing Millions Worldwide.”
“We’re being told to be prepared because he’s already on the top seller list with preorders (of the book),” Ross said.
Some consumers are actually buying celery by the case, Ross said, following William’s advice to drink 16 ounces of celery juice each morning on an empty stomach.
William’s endorsement of celery juice as a powerful food for a variety of ills — a “healthy gut” among them — has attracted celebrity endorsements. Demand began increasing last year, Ross said.
“Last summer was when we first started hearing a little bit about it,” he said, noting the rising demand wasn’t evident in Duda’s seasonally strong fall orders.
Higher prices aren’t slowing down demand, he said, noting prices as high as $100 (Canadian) per carton for celery delivered in Canada.
“(Retailers) want more because consumers are buying it,” Ross said, recalling a story of consumers lining up to get into Whole Foods to buy celery.
Ross said the new book will likely spur demand for several months.
“We’ve been told it is probably going to be in next year’s New Year’s resolutions, so we will probably have another good year,” he said.