Celery prices soar as juice shops struggle to meet demand from latest health fad
Prices have spiked by 250% due to poor growing conditions in California
Celery supply is low because of rain in California, and Vancouver juice shops are feeling the pinch as they struggle to meet customers' demand for celery juice.
A recent health food trend driven by celebrity personalities in the United States has sparked a celery juice craze, driving local shops to purchase more and more bunches of the stalky green.
"Prices of celery have gone from like $20 a box to anywhere from $90 to $150 a box," said Zach Berman, co-owner of The Juice Truck.
According to a local supplier of produce, including celery, the spike in prices is being driven by bad weather in California.
"There's been a lot of rain there at the time of planting," said Yumiko Hayashi, marketing manager for Fresh Point Vancouver. "It's caused saturation of the celery plants and it's disrupted the growing cycle."
She says celery acreage has been down by about 30 to 50 per cent from previous years.
Celery trend sparked by social media
The increase in prices means The Juice Truck is currently taking a loss on every celery juice it sells.
The company's stores go through almost 20 boxes a day, all to produce about 30 bottles of the green elixir sought after by health-conscious customers.
Vancouver's Glory Juice says their supplier has also noticed a 250-per-cent spike in prices. They're still planning on adding pure celery juice to their menu next week to meet customer demand.
Berman says social media influencers have sparked the latest health trend.
"There's a couple, let's call them social media presences, that kind of championed or pioneered this celery juice trend."
Popular podcaster Anthony Williams started telling his followers to drink celery every morning on an empty stomach.
The man behind Medical Medium, who has no scientific or medical background, started promoting celery juice as a quick fix to health issues like autoimmune illnesses, digestive issues and skin conditions.
Williams also claims to speak with spirits who provide him with advanced health information.
No evidence of detoxifying
Registered dietitians like Jessica Wang say there's no evidence to support claims of celery juice being a miracle cure.
"Individuals get the impression that this is cleansing to the body and they're detoxifying," but the liver and kidneys "function very well at detoxifying the body on its own."
Wang says juicing vegetables and fruits may allow you to drink more nutrients than you would be able to eat in their solid form, but other health benefits are lost.
"You lose the bulk of the fibre, which is essential for that roughage, and the roughage plays a huge role in helping people feel full, as well as stabilizing blood sugars."
According to Hayashi, suppliers are currently in a transition period. As the weather gets warmer, Fresh Point will turn to fields farther north for produce, including local B.C. farmers.
In the meantime, juice shops will have to keep shelling out the cash to keep customers supplied. Prices aren't expected to get back to normal until August.