Are you feeling the New Year’s rush like we are? It’s been a crazy couple of weeks trying to keep up with everyone’s demand for organic, revitalizing foods to help with New Year’s resolutions. Of course, a public’s demand can never sway the tempestuous spirit of nature. As you know many items like carrots, celery, cucumbers (sorry juice people) have been hard to come by and prices on these items have been up. We’re trying our best to keep your orders filled, but it’s a tough time of year to keep up with such a strong need for produce, especially when you’re dealing with inclement weather and distant growing regions. Our strongest recommendation is to open up those lines of communication with your Account Manager! Cultivating a good relationship with your friendly neighborhood produce distributor is one of the best things you can do for your biz! We look forward to hearing from you!
Apple and Pear
There are still lots of apples to eat both from California and the Pacific Northwest. We expect to have Cuyama Orchards Fuji and Pink Lady through February. The taste is fantastic! The Northwest growers are still packing fruit from cold storage every week so we will continue to have good availability on all the standard favorites: Braeburn, Cameo, Fuji, Granny Smith, Pink Lady, and Red Delicious. We will also see some freshly packed Enterprise and Gold Blush apples from Columbia Gorge in Oregon this week!
While we are down to just a few varieties of pears, we will still be able to supply our customers for weeks to come. Bosc and d ’Anjou pears are continuing to eat wonderfully! We continue to offer Bosc Pears from Mt Hood Organic Farm which means not only are they organic, but they are certified biodynamic too. We can expect the import season to start in mid-February with Bartlett pears from South America.
Blueberries are being affected by extreme weather in South America making delivery frequency go down slightly, but the season is not over yet! We are seeing the start of strawberries in-house, and though the price may be high, they are super flavorful for this time of year! Raspberries continue to be in good supply and are really a treat during January.
The citrus season continues to bring us new items every week. There are so many different flavors to try; some varieties won’t be around for long, so don’t miss your opportunity!
Alongside the Ruby grapefruit, we are now offering you Rio Red grapefruit grown by B&J Ranch! This fruit has a beautiful deep, bright red flesh and taste fantastic. The Ruby continues to wow us all with outstanding flavor that has the perfect tart-sweet balance. Both varieties are available in many sizes as well as in Choice grades. In addition to the traditional grapefruit varieties, we are also offering Oro Blanco and MeloGold grapefruit; both grown by Buck Brand in the Central Valley of California. The MeloGold is a new variety that is sure to knock your socks off. This large, yellow skinned grapefruit is very sweet and very juicy! We also have wonderful Chandler pomelos;- rumor has it they bring people good luck. Get ready for the Lunar New Year, when many cultures give pomelos, often decorated with ribbons, as good luck gifts.
In terms of oranges, we have quite the selection: Navel, Cara Cara Navel, Valencia, Mango, and Blood too! Ranging from yellow to orange to pink to maroon on the inside; oranges offer a lot of color and flavor variety and also pack dense nutrients! We’ve got a huge array of sizes and grades for all of your customers’ needs. Our advice is to try them all while they are in season and tasting like they should! Sampling provides customers the chance to see and taste the amazing diversity in oranges.
New in our tangerine selection this week are Honey, Murcott, Pixie, Nova, and TDE! We will also see our first Kishu mandarins from Churchill Orchards sporting the Little Wonder label as well as Clementines from Shore Packing, both orchards on the Central Coast of California. For tangerine lovers, do not miss the TDE variety; these are (mostly) seedless and a triple cross of the Temple tangor, Dancy mandarin and Encore mandarin; they are a deep orange color and are sweet, juicy, and rich in flavor. Sad to say we are just about done with Fairchild tangerines and Orlando tangelos. Thanks to B&J Ranch for all the wonderful Fairchild and Orlando this year! The ever popular, easy-to-peel Satsuma is still hanging in there. .
Beck Grove Nagami kumquats have started to resurface and have great quality and taste! You will not be disappointed; these are a perfect on-the-go snack; no peeling necessary, just pop them in your mouth!
Our kiwi grower, Wild River, says we have never sold so many kiwi; it must be because they are extraordinarily delicious this year, and with a large crop they are priced to move. We have all packs available, so don’t hesitate; now is the time to enjoy them.
The California Hass avocado crop has started for real now, no more teasing. It seems like the fruit is very mature and has higher oil content for this time of year, which is great news. Sizes are running large right now. We will be phasing out of Mexican avocados to support our domestic growers. There is a price spread, and Mexican Hass are still in good supply, so if you are still interested in Mexico-grown avocados let your Account Manager know and we can get them for you. The Greenskin California avocado party still rages on, with Ettinger, Fuerte, Zutano all in good supply.
Though the Tommy Atkins season is winding down, Kent mangoes have hit the market. These smooth-skinned mangoes, grown in Peru, are gorgeous,taste great and the flesh is smooth and custardy. This is another great promotable item for the next couple of weeks.
The good news is we still have beautiful fresh red pomegranates; the bad news is the season is almost over, and demand is still quite strong. The antioxidant superfood trend certainly has had an effect on appreciation of this ancient fruit. Arils will continue to be available through the end of February, as lesser attractive fruit is still in storage and can be processed to order.
Our artichoke availability has been more consistent, and we expect it to stay that way. We are receiving steady product from Rodoni Farm in the Santa Cruz area. All sizes are available, even baby artichokes!
Mexican asparagus is back! Prices are on the higher side, but we expect them to decrease as supply increases. We are still a couple of months away from the California asparagus season, but you can’t go wrong with what wecurrently have available.
A strong supply of bulk-packed French beans and classic green beans is coming from Mexico. They look and taste great and are priced to sell. We still have great supply of the one pound cello bags from Taylor Farms; if you haven’t tried them yet, you should. We’ve gotten lots of positive feedback from our customers on these.
Have no fear! Despite all the rain we got last week, Baby bok choy is steady and looking good; perfect for winter stir-fries. Regular bok choy is available from Heger Farms, Cal-O, and Lakeside Organic Gardens. It looks great and tastes yummy, the perfect hardy green vegetable. .
Broccoli and Cauliflower
We have been running an ad on broccoli and it has been flying out the door. With great pricing and stellar availability, you won’t want to miss out on grabbing the last of this great deal! (Ad ends January 16th)
After the long battle to find and secure cauliflower, there now seems to be a lot of product on the market. Unfortunately prices are still high, but we are hoping to see some price drops within the next 2 weeks. Cauliflower does very well in colder weather so everything should level out very soon! Some people are saying that cauliflower is the new kale, so watch out for the new trend!
Napa cabbage supply is very light and will be tight for the next week or two. Be sure to keep checking the list, but push those kimchi plans back for a bit until availability is stronger!
Brussel sprouts are a great promotional item and will be for the next couple of weeks. Our Multiple growers have priced them to move.
We’re sorry to report the bulk carrot scene is still looking pretty bleak. High demand continues to outstrip supply for every label.
The good news is that bunched carrots are strong in supply, quality, and consistency. We have multiple growers providing bunched carrots, so take your pick of labels!
Chards are creeping up in price due to weather labor shortages. Freezing temperatures and rainy field’s make it very hard for farmers to get into the fields. With El Nino this year, we may see this continue sporadically throughout the winter, but it should not create any major or long-running gaps in the greens department.
Lettuce, Retail Greens and Herb
Bunched basil is extremely limited, but rest assured, we are getting as much as we can. Just check in often about it!
Lettuce seems to be bouncing back from sizing and quality issues, and new fields are producing much better product! Be sure to check our list for any special new items that have popped up, particularly the return of Baby lettuce!
Unfortunately, All Seasons Mushrooms is running into production problems;, we’re unsure when we’ll see their product again. In the meantime, Monterey Mushrooms has great supply of Cremini and White Button mushrooms to meet all your needs. If you haven’t tried Far West Fungi’s Yellow Foot Chanterelles, get ‘em while you can–their season is short. They are delicious, wild-harvested, and colorful. With all the interest in healthful eating, mushrooms are the fastest growing category in produce world-wide! Branch out and try specialty varieties that may be new to you or your customers!
As some of our Northern California onion growers wind down their season, we will start to have onions available from Cal-Organic. With the Cal-Organic and Peri and Sons labels in-house, our onion inventory should be full of beautiful, pristine onions.
Ginger and Turmeric
California turmeric is in from Whiskey Hill Farm, a grower in the Santa Cruz area; this farm utilizes permaculture techniques and has indoor glass houses, as well as field crops. We also have Hawaiian turmeric through Kauai Organics– it’s priced to sell. Yellow Peruvian ginger remains strong, and prices are competitive. It’s perfect for stir-frying and making warm teas this time of year.
The pea grower based in Davenport we’d seen through the fall is back with Sugar Snap peas under the A & A label. We also have a good selection of peas, including Sugar Snap, Snow and the elusive English pea, although only in very small quantities. From all reports, Sugar Snaps should stick around for a bit, along with Snow peas, but English peas are fleeting at best.
Yellow potatoes from Oregon are starting to be limited. Nature’s Pride, located on the California/Oregon boarder will have yellow potatoes through the end of January, Red potatoes into March, and Russets through May. The California potato season will start in April.. Purple potatoes are back!! Grown in Othello, Washington by Andersen Organics, these potatoes have purple skin and purple flesh. These purple beauties are a great item for the produce rack as the purple color really pops out and attracts attention.
Bagged Chioggia and jumbo beets are starting to reappear on the market, but they are still limited. Availability and quality on most other roots is still strong. The one exception is celery root, which very few folks are packing in 25# bags right now. Because the greens are still strong, growers are packing them in 12ct boxes, which look really nice. The greens make a nice addition to soups and stews!
Bunched Chioggia beets are back! They have light red skin and beautiful rings inside, like red and white candy stripes! These make a wonderful addition to a menu and are a visual crowd pleaser.
Butternut squash is the one variety of squash from California that still has good volume and quality. There are bits and pieces of Kabocha and Spaghetti, but most of the rest of the squash out there is coming from Mexico. Quality of the Mexican crop is spectacular this year, with nice firm fruits and rich, vibrant color.
Tuesday, a group of striking Truck Drivers in Mexico organized a blockade at the US/Mexico border through the Port of Nogales, AZ. The blockade, organized (somewhat ironically) in protest of Customs’ inefficient hours and resulting long wait times, has severely affected Mexico’s Custom office’s ability to effectively process imports this week. The strike is affecting our supply of organic cucumber, tomato, bell peppers, eggplant, zucchini, beans and other warm weather-grown vegetables. We expect these Mexico-grown products to be tight for the next 5-7 days; be sure to get your orders in early to secure product while the market recovers.
The outcome of this blockade is positive; the protesting truck drivers were successful in their negotiations and as a result Customs is extending their hours in the Ports of Juarez and Nogales effective immediately. The world of produce is a dynamic, delicate one with many moving parts and it takes a lot of hard-working people to get fresh vegetables across state and country borders.. If you experience shorts in these categories in the next few days, please take a moment to be thankful for all the hardworking people it takes to move food from points A to B to C to you, 365 days a year!