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Gilroy, CA-based Christopher Ranch, a mainstay exhibitor at the Produce Marketing Association's Foodservice Conference & Exposition, will have both a new product and new packaging on display at this year’s show.

Christopher Ranch’s new product -- green garlic -- is garlic harvested during its growing stage, before the bulbing stage. Until now, consumers seeking green garlic mostly relied on farmer’ markets for the item.

Patsy Ross, Christopher Ranch’s vice president of marketing, told The Produce News July 7 that she believes Christopher Ranch is the first garlic grower to offer packaged, sanitized green garlic. The item will be in the new products showcase at the PMA foodservice conference, set for July 30 to Aug. 1 in Monterey, CA.

PMA’s foodservice conference is a great way to bring products to the right audience, Ms. Ross said. Distributors and operators (such as restaurant buyers and chefs) are the audience Christopher Ranch wants to see at the conference. Buying groups use the conference to bring staff together, Ms. Ross said. Christopher Ranch typically uses the days around the conference to host buying groups at its facilities in Gilroy.

There’s "big interest" from buyers for Christopher Ranch’s green garlic, Ms. Ross said. “We’re shooting for six months’ availability” of green garlic. She added that by the end of 2010 heading into 2011, Christopher Ranch hopes to offer green garlic year round.

With sales offices and warehouses spread around the United States, Christopher Ranch is in the beginning stages of rolling out its green garlic product. “In a lot of areas, green garlic is in a sampling mode,” Ms. Ross said. Also new at Christopher Ranch for foodservice is a switch to a stand-up flexible bag from its PET jar with a lid. The five-pound flexible bag is strong enough to stand on its own but flexible enough to fold to the size of a matchbox, Ms. Ross said.

Shipping cost reductions can be realized with Christopher Ranch’s flexible bag because it weighs less than the PET jar. With about an 80 percent reduction in material compared with the PET jar, the flexible bag is environmentally friendly, as well, according to Ms. Ross.

Christopher Ranch won’t be short on garlic supplies this year, she added, but it “looks like the [industrywide] garlic shortage is real.”