We Gonna Celebrate and Have a Good Time

staffpicks29Hey ladies and germs!  It’s time again to play: “KNOW YOUR CUSTOMER”! The next couple of weeks are chock full of events that could potentially give your post-holiday season produce displays a real shot in the arm.  Between the Super Bowl, Groundhog Day, Chinese New Year, and Mardi Gras there is plenty to pick from.  And don’t forget Valentine’s Day is right around the corner. So give some thought to who comes into your stores and capitalize on the next couple of weeks of festivities by focusing on a theme.  Do you have a lot of sports fanatics striding through your doors?  Start highlighting all of those guacamole and salsa ingredients!  More worldly types, excited about The Year of the Monkey? Then start working your magic with vibrant exhibits of tangerines, pomelos, and oranges!  Celebratory, bacchanalian revelers in your aisles?  Then set up your Fat Tuesday displays with beautiful swaths of purple, green, and golden fruit and veggies.  But hey!  Customers aren’t so one-dimensional; a lot of folks are excited about all holidays!  So beat the odds and incorporate all these events in your upcoming displays!  Adding a little personality to your department is a great way to breathe some life into the customer’s experience and your own.

Fruit

Apple and Pear

We’ve got great supply on apples, whether you are looking for Fuji, Cameo, Gala, Granny Smith, or Braeburn. The local supply of Cuyama Orchards Fuji and Pink Lady should continue through February- order them now, they taste amazing! Cuyama’s utility grade is also available – perfect for juicers and processors.  You may not believe it, but we’re entering a tiny window where we will see some specialty varieties like Enterprise and Gold Blush- freshly packed from Columbia Gorge- don’t miss out!

Bosc and d’Anjou pears are holding on as the storage season progresses. Though we are pretty much down to just these few varieties, the import season is just around the corner.  We anticipate new varieties from South America in late February with fresh Bartlett pears, so stay tuned.

 Banana

After a week or two of tight banana supplies, we are back in action with our Organics Unlimited GROW label, and are ready to fill all of your banana needs! We consistently have our Fair Trade option to choose from as well. Let your Account Manager know if you are interested.

Berry

Strawberries are starting to pop up in more places and we are seeing some wonderful quality and flavor from these late-winter offerings. This is a great sign for the upcoming Valentine’s Day, and we hope shoppers and menu makers alike will rejoice in this berry jubilation. Strawberries and chocolate, here we come…

Raspberry and blueberry supplies are steady.

Citrus

We’re in citrus heaven over here and we want to share!  Make your stores and menus pop with color, flavor, and tang by choosing from all the choices we have in house.

We’ve got Nagami kumquats from Beck Grove, one of the most delicious and flavorful varieties! We also have a smattering of mandarinquat, pomelo, and cocktail grapefruit for those looking to diversify their sets. Don’t forget to decorate an Oro Blanco or Pomelo with ribbons and stickers to give away for good luck on the Lunar New Year!

Grapefruit flavor is peaking right now and the Ruby grapefruit from B&J Ranch is gorgeous.  Their crop is bountiful, and the fruit looks clean and bright.  Don’t miss their delicious Rio Red grapefruit either.  The Rio Reds are a little tighter than their Ruby cousins, so get them soon.  Have you tried the MeloGold from Buck Brand yet?  They are a wonderfully sweet grapefruit, bright yellow on the inside and out!

Lemons are beginning to inch up in price, but we still have plenty in house.  And don’t forget your Meyers, we’ve got tons.  The California lime supply is drying up; we’re going back to Mexico to ensure a steady and quality supply.  Each week we have smatterings of some special limes, too—if you’re looking to really spice things up, look for Makrut, Finger, and Sweet limes!

Cara Cara oranges are here and their flavor is really great! For the retailers out there, these are a terrific item for sampling: between the beautiful pink color of the meaty flesh and the amazing flavor, these are sure to sell themselves! Navels continue to eat really well too.  Interested in a bin?  Talk to your Account Manager today!  Blood oranges can’t be beat- they are cutting beautifully, with a deep rich red color and tasting superb, like raspberry jam! Valencia oranges are still coming in strong from Mexico- the perfect juice orange, don’t overlook them.

As we wind down on some of the classic tangerines we have new varieties to look forward to.  We have our first picks of Gold Nuggets and Pixie tangerines in house, as well as Fremonts and our newest favorite the TDE!  This new variety is a cross between the Temple Orange, Dancy Tangerine and the Encore Mandarin. Excellent flavor. Honey and Dancy Tangerines continue to eat really well. The Dancy have a bright deep orange color that really pops! Don’t forget about those teeny tiny Kishu mandarins, we are getting in our last of the season this week!  They taste incredible, are easy to peel, and perfectly sized for kids and adults alike!

Avocado

Now we are in full swing of avocado season, just in time for the Guacamole event of the year, the Super Bowl! Even if you don’t care for football, you can satisfy any New Year’s healthful resolutions with this ever popular superfood.  Not only are California domestic Hass avocados readily available, with increasingly sharp pricing, the California greenskin crop keeps giving. We have aggressively priced Ettinger, Bacon, Fuerte, and Zutano, all with the best eating quality we’ve seen in years. Turn your customers on to a new avocado experience, and they will come back for more. And for all our chef’s out there, try avocado flavored ice cream or avocado based custard to get your customer’s attention! And remember the great classic winter pairing: avocado and grapefruit, the perfect match for any salad.

Vegetables

Artichoke

Artichokes remain steady, though the larger sizes are limited. We are seeing some chokes come to us “frost kist” a fancy way to say that these cold California winters can cause the chokes to have some browning on the outer leaves and also some peeling. It almost looks like a sunburn. Although the browning color may not be pretty, the artichokes taste amazing. The flavor is nuttier than usual.  Support your winter artichoke growers by educating everyone that appearance is not everything in produce! Flavor and nutrition should always trump cosmetic quality.

Asparagus

Well folks, it’s already happening.  California asparagus is beginning!  Because ‘the grass’ is just trickling in, availability is limited, and the price is higher than Mexican-grown asparagus.  For those of you who are ‘locavores’ keep your eyes peeled and ask your Account Manager regularly if we have any coming in.

Mexican asparagus remains in good supply, with prices dropping. The flavor this year has been awesome. Try baking them quickly with olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper and they won’t disappoint. Very tasty.

Bean

Cello-packed French beans are here! They are from Nature’s Nectar and are beautifully packed to shine on the produce stand. If you’ve had success with cello-packed green beans from Taylor Farms, give these a try for your gourmand shoppers.  You will be delighted with the quality!

Broccoli & Cauliflower

Broccoli price has been stable since we saw supplies increase back to ‘normal’ levels.  Aside from having steady volume on both crowns and bunches, we’ve also seen the return of Broccoli Rabe, Rapani and Broccoli De Ciccio. All three of these varieties are part of the Brassica family and are unique in their own way.  If you have not branched out of your broccoli comfort zone, be sure to try a box of each and see how well they sell!

Cauliflower went from almost non-existent in supply to a boom- it’s practically raining cauliflower over here!  We have so many great vendors, sizes and colors to choose from.  Price seems like it will stay low, so be sure to keep it in your buying plan. All the foodies are talking about roast cauliflower or cauliflower steaks as a great alternative to roasted meat. You don’t have to be a vegetarian to enjoy the rich, satisfying flavor.

Brussel Sprout

So many farmers grew Brussel sprouts this year that our warehouse looks like a vast sea of Brussel boxes.  This is a great problem to have! Pricing is very competitive, which makes these small green morsels a great promotional item. Check out our new pack type- sprouts in a pouch. These sprouts are grown in Mexico and packed by Boskovich farms in Oxnard, California. The sprout craze continues!

Cabbage

Unfortunately we are seeing very low yields on Napa and Savoy cabbage, but luckily what we are getting has been looking beautiful. That said, don’t overlook the Red Savoy, it’s absolutely stunning and makes a great addition to any produce display, produce box or menu. It’s priced to move.

Carrot

If you’ve been blue from the recent lack of delectable bright orange carrots on your shelves and menus, embrace the influx of orange back into your life and diet! That’s right, carrots are back: juicing, jumbo, table, 10×5 lb, the list goes on and on. We expect to see normal availability moving forward. Thank you for your patience in this time of carrot crisis, it was a long and bumpy ride!

Cucumber

Persian cucumbers are back and ready to hit the market strong- they are in good supply and ready to fly! We have them in a 22# bulk pack.  These cukes are tender and crunchy and fresh- and are especially delicious in deli salads, sandwiches, and snack platters.

Eggplant

Fair Trade globe eggplant is back! The small premium added to Fair Trade Prices support community projects such as establishing new rural health clinics, creating and improving education programs, constructing spaces for community, and investing in small, interest-free loans directly to farmworkers to build their own houses. For a few more cents per piece, our customers can feel good about supporting brands like Wholesum Harvest and Del Cabo who are pioneering the Fair Trade movement for generations to come.  Ask your Account Manager for more information about Fair Trade—oh, and don’t forget the eggplants!

Garlic

As the California garlic season is ending you will start seeing garlic grown in Mexico and Argentina. Christopher Ranch is forecasting very limited amounts of California garlic for the next couple of weeks. After that all garlic will be imported, until the spring crop starts up again in California.

Ginger and Tumeric

Our California-grown turmeric has been a hit! If you haven’t tried it please do. We also have 5 pound bags of turmeric grown on a small family farm in Hawaii. The farm is called Kolo Kai and is located on the slopes of the volcano in Kilauea, on the Big Island. They have been growing organic produce and gingers since the 1980’s. Their yellow ginger is gorgeous and very fragrant. Please check their product out.

Greens

Looking for a little more color in your life? How about trying some Red Russian or Red Bore kale? Both of these varieties have deep and rich coloring, and are both powerhouses for health.

Maybe you are looking for something delicate and different, too?  Try some of our bunched Mizuna, a Japanese mustard with spikey leaves and has been described to have a sharp watercress taste. It is a rarity on our list so do not pass this up!

Lettuce, Retail Greens, and Herb

Get ready for some ‘off the charts’ low pricing on Red and Green leaf lettuces! We will have a special running the first week of February and we could not be more excited! Quality looks good and people are still eating salads- those New Year’s resolutions haven’t faded yet.

And who can live without herbs?  Great for winter roasts and bakes, don’t forget them on your next order.  The usual suspects continue to be unavailable: marjoram, tarragon, and chives. Mexican grown basil is out there, too, but supply is limited.

Did someone say retail greens?  Starting the second week of February, we will be starting a new cycle of promotional discounts with Earthbound Farms. These promos will coincide with our regular ad/specials program, so you won’t want to miss out on the great pricing and special deals.

Leek

It’s a sad time of year for our friends the leeks, and it doesn’t look like it’s getting any better.  We’re seeing tight availability and increased pricing.  Sorry to say, but we expect this trend to continue for a few weeks at least.

Lemongrass

The rainy, cool weather has led to less-than-favorable conditions for lemongrass production. Our primary year-round California grower expects quality crops to be ready to harvest in the next couple of weeks. Stay tuned.

Mushroom

Have you tried the Purple Blewit mushrooms from Far West Fungi yet?  The Blewits are an exclamation mark on the end of California’s wild mushroom season: their delightful purple color ranges from a delicate lilac to bright violet and are sure to make a splash on the produce rack or on your menu. They have a distinct and unique savory flavor that is sure to impress. Ask your Account Manager for them today.

Onion

Onion growers are reporting an early end to the season this year with their storage surpluses already running low. This means prices have been going up and will continue to do so. Yellow onions are the most heavily affected with demand having been greater than normal earlier in the season. One thing you can continue to count on is the quality and flavor of some of the best trusted labels out there including Peri & Sons and Cal-Organic.

Pea

This blast of peas is really kicking into full swing now and we’re getting a fairly steady stream of several varieties- prices are looking good. Check out one of our favorite peas of the season so far, the sugar snaps from Elwood Canyon. And they’re grown right here on our very own California coastline!

Pepper

We are getting some incredible deals on #1 quality red and yellow bell peppers right now! Lots of pretty, premium quality bells to go around. The more peppers we can sell for our hardworking growers in Mexico, the better.  Enjoy this rare winter abundance!

Potato

Get your potatoes here!  We’ve got different varieties and sizes to choose from so don’t be shy.  Russets remain in strong supply, and if you are looking for the best price, look at 90cts and 10×5’s. Volume and pallet deals are available.

Red potatoes are limited. We have limited supply on Washington grown C size potatoes, and California is done for the season.

Yellow potatoes are also limited, but we expect to see them through this month. Expect prices to go up as supply becomes more and more limited, so stock up sooner than later.

Root

While recent rain has provided a slight, but much needed relief for everyone, it has had some adverse effects on certain items. For example, we’re seeing a decrease in availability (and a bump up in price) in bagged beets.  Muddy fields make harvesting root crops a tricky endeavor, usually to be avoided as much as possible. While beet greens are flourishing from the rains, this flush of green means growers are sending their volume to be bunched and not bagged. Luckily, areas like the Northwest and desert growing regions of California are still harvesting good amounts of red beets for bagging. Additionally, we’re starting to see some more local options for gold and chioggia beets—just in time as gold beets are winding down from the Northwest. Jumbos remain limited as they are typically the last to get bagged.

Although we’re nowhere near the end yet, we are coming off the crest of the peak in the root crop season. Have no fear, those juicy and slightly sweet turnips of many colors, plump and tender parsnips, and hearty, healthy rutabaga will stick around for quite some time still, don’t be surprised if some of the specialty items start to drop off over the course of the next few weeks.

Tomato

Del Cabo’s production of Sugar Plum Grape tomatoes has taken a little nose-dive, as cool weather has slowed the fruit progress on the vine. They should be back up to a more regular production volume in about 2-4 weeks, and in the meantime we are pleased to offer Grape Cherry Tomatoes from Nature’s Nectar and Wholesum Family Farms to fill in your Grape tomato needs.

Roma and slicing tomatoes are in good supply, and prices are sliding to follow production increases.

GUNG HOY FAT CHOY! (Happy New Year!)