The Garlic Co. considers the Produce Marketing Association’s July 29-31 Foodservice Conference & Exposition in Monterey, CA, to be extremely important because it does a sizable portion of its business with the foodservice sector.
Attendees of the event will find The Garlic Co. at booth number 48. Bob Lords, fresh and foodservice sales manager; John Layous, a partner in the firm; and his son Michael Layous will be on hand to greet customers and prospective customers.
“We will have the peeled garlic and peeled shallot products that are geared specifically for foodservice operators on hand at the show,” said Mr. Lords. “Garlic is our main focus, and we service the foodservice industry every day of the year. It’s our real bread and butter, so to me this is the most important show of the year.”
Mr. Lords explained that some of the company’s competition has recently started offering poly bags, but The Garlic Co. has offered the option since its inception. “We continue to show them, and if our customers want them, we can provide them,” he said.
“The demand for shallots from foodservice operators seems to grow every year,” Mr. Lords continued. “We offer them in four- and five-pound jars, both packed four to a box.”
The Garlic Co.’s foodservice customers are spread across the United States and into Canada. Mr. Lords said that its foodservice customers span all segments of the industry, from high-end restaurants to fast-food and quick-serve chains.
The garlic shortage in China last year was good news for California producers like The Garlic Co. because the country is its primary source of competition. “Problems with Chinese garlic translate into good news for us,” said Mr. Lords. “People were forced to use more California product, and that made them realize the value of it. Besides sourcing from local producers, it is a good, safe product that is known to have outstanding flavor, especially as compared to Chinese garlic. Buyers’ brains have calculated these benefits, and many are telling us that it’s not all about price. Folks who know the difference will spend a little more for California garlic. At the foodservice level, garlic makes up a very small percentage of the ingredient at the plate level, and our garlic is not very expensive, so chefs are more prone to use it because of all of the benefits it comes with.”
The Garlic Co. is in the process of expanding its cold storage and shipping dock at its facility. Mr. Lords said that the company broke ground in mid-June, and construction is expected to take about 90 days. “We will have more space and an improved facility,” he said. “We are also starting to break ground on a new packing room for peeled garlic.”
In addition to garlic and shallots, The Garlic Co. offers a line of Cipollini onions, peeled pearl onions and fresh pearl onions in all colors. Mr. Lords said that the first time the company featured these items at a PMA foodservice show, customers were surprised and happy. “They told us that they didn’t know we offered these items,” he said. “Since then, we have placed more emphases on them, and we will have them on display at this year’s PMA Foodservice expo.”
The company also handles a line of Jalapeño peppers, but Mr. Lords said that the biggest drawback is the 40-pound pail in which the item is packed, which makes it more conducive to industrial or processing use. “We have always been open to customers’ suggestions on packaging, and we’re willing to listen to their recommendations on this and other items,” he said. “The Garlic Company’s main focus is on the foodservice industry, and we are more experienced than our competitors at knowing how to meet operators’ expectations and needs.”
The Garlic Co. has moved into its next generation. Besides Mr. Layous’ son Michael, Joe Lane, also a partner in the firm, has a son Bill, who is involved in the production end, and a daughter Tiffany, who is in sales with the company.