The Value of Value-Added Produce

Chopped vegetables

Looking ahead for 2017, reports show the demand for fresh produce remains high as consumers continue to seek health-conscious options. With value-added fresh produce and convenience driving consumer buying trends for the new year, this is a good time to offer fresh-cut items in your market or even as a restaurant to-go item. Consumers want items that are prepped and ready to use or eat (especially for kids looking for a snack!)

Did you know we have a fresh-cut program? Our fresh-cut offerings come in 5 pound bags that are easy for you to manage and repackage in sizes best suited to your target customers. Sacramento Natural Foods Co-op partnered with us for to launch their fresh-cut program. As a result, the store increased weekly sales and created more customer loyalty.

Our value added fresh-cut offerings include: sweet potato fries, slaw mix, fajita mix, mirepoix, cubed butternut squash, chopped onions, sliced mango, cubed honeydew and much more.

Speak to your Account Manager for more information about this program. Our Merchandisers are also available to assist in setting up fresh-cut programs.

*Keep a lookout for our staff picks noted in orange.

Fruit

Apple and Pear

We’re seeing strong supply on popular varieties including: Fuji, Gala, Braeburn and Granny Smith (select sizing). Gala prices are inching up so don’t wait to order! From Canadian First Fruits, we have beautiful colored Ambrosia and delicious Sweet Orin.

In the world of pears, supply is dwindling. Red Anjou pears are winding down for the season. The last of the Olympic Asian pears from Columbia Gorge are here now but going fast. Bosc, and D’Anjou pears from Bridges and Columbia Gorge are almost done but we’ll have some supply from Blue Bird. Get ‘em while you can!

Avocado

It’s an avocado extravaganza right now with California grown Bacon and Fuerte and Mexican grown Hass all available with steady supply. The Bacon has wonderful creamy texture and nutty flavor, but needs to be softer and riper when eaten compared to other varieties. We’re expecting about one more month of harvest for this variety, weather permitting. Don’t forget about the winter-loving Fuertes this season. Fuerte avocados started the whole California avocado industry in early 1911 when a farmer discovered this resilient variety could withstand frost!  Start to think about Super Bowl guacamole promotions, you have lots of choices.

Banana

Did you know our bananas are sourced through Organic Unlimited’s GROW (Giving Resources and Opportunities to Workers) banana program? The GROW program provides ongoing financial support and services to farm workers, their families and surrounding communities. It was founded in 2005 on the principle of providing better opportunities for banana-growing communities. To date, the program has helped thousands of families in Mexico and Ecuador. Let your Account Manager know if you would like to join the GROW banana social justice program.

Berry

Sporadic rainy weather has caused a gap in our strawberry supply. We’re expecting to see some berries from Duncan Family Farms in Arizona the first week of January. Blueberry season is going strong with sharp pricing and fruit coming in from Chile, Peru and Mexico. Raspberry supply has tightened and pricing is up, possibly due to colder temperatures in growing regions in Mexico. Blackberry prices are also climbing, which is in line with past seasonal trends.

Citrus

Blood oranges from Buck Brand are done for the season. It was short but sweet! Look for other growers to come on in January including Beck Grove, Cousins, Homegrown Organic Farms and Heath Ranch. Washington navel and Cara Cara navel supply is strong. The Cara Cara navel is a crowd favorite with its golden orange flesh and sweet flavor—stock up while they’re in season!

Algerian clementines from Buck Brand are winding down. We will soon transition into the TDE variety also known as ‘triple cross’ in mid-January. TDE is an acronym for Temple Tangor, Dancy mandarin, and Encore mandarin.  TDE has a deep orange rind color and has a very sweet and rich flavor.  Minneola Tangelos are just starting up and we should be seeing more Kishus mid-January.

Lemon supply is steady. We have excellent fruit from Sespe Creek and Pauma Valley Citrus. The lime market has tightened from our California growers. To supplement, we are bringing in Mexico grown limes from Patagonia Orchards.

B&J Ranch grapefruit has arrived! This sweet and delicious fruit has a cult following. Some would say they wait all season for some of this harvest. Add some to your order—we promise you won’t regret it! Similar in appearance but a different fruit in its own right, we have Chandler pomelo from Twin Girls and African Shaddock pomelo from Buck Brand. Both are at the peak of the season and taste wonderful. Since pomelos are not as a mainstream, try adding both varieties to your tasting table for samples.

Yuzu is done for the season but from the specialty citrus realm, we still have Buddha’s hand citron available.

Grape

Red and green seedless grapes and red globe grapes from Peru are expected to arrive in the beginning of January. If you haven’t tried red globes, you’re in for a treat! This variety has large fruit with crisp firm flesh and tiny seeds in the center. Did you known red grapes contain fewer calories than green grapes and are chock full of Vitamin A, C, B6, potassium, iron and many other nutrients? This is a great item to promote for healthy eaters in the New Year!

Mango

Tommy Atkins mangoes are done for the season. Altaulfo mangoes are still in good supply. New to the mango offerings, we have Kent mango arriving from Ecuador. Contrary to Altaulfos, Kents are oval in shape and turn a greenish-yellow color with some red blush as it matures. Both varieties have a rich, sweet flavor.

Melon

We are seeing some gap in supply on mini seedless watermelon and Harper melon from Nature’s Nectar. We expect to replenish our supply this week—stay tuned!

Pineapple

Demand is high for pineapple right now, but with limited supply coming in from Costa Rica. The limited availability is in part due to Tropical Storm Otto passing through Central America in late November.

Pomegranate

Looks like Mother Nature is sending us a holiday gift this year with an extended pomegranate season. The bigger sized pomegranate fruit is done but growers are still offering mid-sized fruit at great prices. As always, arils are still in great supply.

 

Nuts

We have a full array of all kinds of nuts including: almond, pistachio, walnut, cashew and several blends.  With consumers focusing on health in the New Year, nuts are a great item to promote for the plethora of nutrients and health benefits. Besides being packed with protein, most nuts contain heart healthy substances including unsaturated fats, Omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, Vitamin E and plant sterols.

 

Vegetables

Artichoke

Artichoke pricing is still high and expected to stay there in the short term. This is the time of year when we see the frost-kissed ‘chokes. The cold temperatures cause some discoloration on the outer leaves—a blessing in disguise as the “frost-kiss” enhances the flavor and creates a delicious nutty taste!

Asparagus

Asparagus prices are way up. Availability for green asparagus is very limited; purple is not available at this time. Expect these prices to hold until more supply from Mexico becomes available.

Bean

Green bean supply is steady with good pricing. Rico Farms will be winding down soon, but look for new crop from De La Costa, also from Mexico.

Broccoli

In the brassica world, broccoli supply is good and we’re seeing excellent pricing going into the beginning of January for crowns. Have you tried our specialty varieties? We have beautiful chartreuse colored Romanesco that would brighten any display or dish. Fun fact: the number of spirals on the head of Romanesco is a Fibonacci number. Also of note is the broccoli de ciccio from Pie Ranch. During harvest, the main head is cut and side shoots develop, producing additional small to medium heads. This Italian heirloom variety is flavorful and great for steaming, stir-fries and freezing!

Brussels Sprout

As we come out of the holiday rush, Brussels sprouts supply is holding steady. We’re still hopeful brussels sprouts on the stalk will be arriving soon. Stay tuned!

Cabbage

Cabbage is in its prime right now with strong supply and an array of options. We have green, red, Napa and Savoy. From soups to stews to slaws, keep plenty of this leafy veggie on hand for the health-conscious eaters in the coming weeks. Don’t forget to plan on sauerkraut and kim-chee from scratch, for all the fermentation fans out there.

Carrot

On the bunched carrots front, supply is strong including a large variety of bunched baby carrots. We have baby purple, yellow, rainbow, Imperator, Nantes, Chantenay and the adorably named Thumbelina! Thumbelinas are deep orange in color and roughly the size of a golf ball. They have a sweet flavor with herbaceous undertones—and can be eaten raw or cooked with no peeling.

Bagged juicing carrots are plentiful and in high demand item at this time of year when juice cleanses are all the rage. We have options from Ralph’s and Cal-O. Stock up before prices go up!

Cauliflower

With the seasonal harvest transition from colder regions to warmer regions mostly complete, cauliflower supply is plentiful from Trina/Perry Farms and Rundle Family Farms. Quality is high in the white, cheddar and graffiti (purple) varieties. Add all three types to your veggie shelves for an eye-catching display. We predict this will be a popular item for dieters in the new year because of its versatility: raw, cooked or even prepared as the paleo friendly cauliflower “rice.”

Celery

Celery prices are climbing but remain very sharp! Keep the celery shelves stocked as colder temperatures continue to drop and incite the flurry of soups, stews and stocks to be made. Don’t forget, this is a popular healthy snack item! Colder weather makes celery sweet!

Cucumber

Persian cucumber and English hothouse cucumber are limited. The English hothouse is crisp with a sweet refreshing flavor—definitely worth the slightly higher price. Slicer cucumbers are in good supply with excellent quality. Try adding these to your specials program—when salads are in hot demand from diet resolutions.

Eggplant

Supply of graffiti eggplant is limited as our grower, Rico Farms, works through some quality issues. However, globe eggplant availability is strong from Rico Farms and Sunfed. We’re expecting the sharp pricing to hold so stock up as customers hit their stride with New Year’s healthy-eating resolutions.

Greens

The large-scale produce harvest transition from northern growing regions down to the south for kale, spinach, chards, collards and other bunched greens is mostly complete. Supply is good and quality is excellent with no expected shortages.  Greens are low in calorie and high in nutrients. Let’s not forget their versatility in shakes, juices, raw salads and cooked sides. January will be a busy time for greens so be sure to order accordingly.

Leek

Chilly temperatures have caused leek pricing to climb but supply is steady and quality is high. Load up for soup and stew season!

Lettuce and Retail Greens

If there’s one month for lettuce to shine, January is it. Red butter is looking great but supply is tight. Fortunately, green leaf, iceberg, red leaf and romaine are plentiful! Mix up your lettuce offerings and get creative with salad recipes to keep interest levels high.

Aside from a fresh lettuce display, retail greens will be a hot commodity in the coming weeks. Baby kale from Jayleaf is tight on supply but we have great options from Earthbound Farms and Taylor Farms. Be sure to check out the 8×5 ounce clamshell options from Earthbound for baby arugula, baby spinach, mixed baby greens, spinach and butter lettuce and spinach and spring mix blend. Taylor Farms Power Greens Wellness Blend is a popular option for health fanatics.

Mushroom

As resolutions kick in and customers trend to healthier choices, mushrooms are a great meat-alternative. We have strong supply of button mushrooms, shiitakes and oysters. Wild mushroom supply is limited so get your orders in early. We have beautiful black trumpets, candy caps, hedgehogs and more!  Chanterelles are just about done. Preorders are recommended to ensure supply; we can typically get them to you in 2-3 days. We recommend preparing mushrooms with Ancient Organics Ghee for a nutty and flavorful paring, yum!

Onion

We’re at the end of the season for sweet yellow onion from Peri & Sons but supply is steady for all other varieties including red, white, yellow, shallots, pearl and Cipollini.

Pea

Peas, please! We have beautiful snow peas and sugar snap peas from Del Cabo, grown in Mexico. English peas are available but supply is very tight.

Pepper

The pepper market is tight all around! Green, orange, and yellow bells from Mexico are limited but we should have some on hand for your pepper needs. We also have domestic and imported red bells.  On the chili pepper front, we have great supply of California grown jalapenos. Specialty chilies from Mexico are limited but we’re seeing poblanos, jalapenos and more. Fair Trade Certified sweet mini peppers from Del Cabo are also available but somewhat limited.

Potato

Potato season is still going strong. We have sharp pricing on Russets in 70 and 90 counts. Red and yellow creamers are also holding steady. Looking for fingerlings? French, Russian Banana and medleys are all in-house!

On the sweet front, Rancho Piccolo purple sweet potatoes are gorgeous with attractive pricing. The lavender cousin of the orange variety can be used in the same ways as an orange or white fleshed sweet potato but with a colorful twist! The color comes from the same pigment that makes cherries and strawberries red. Round out your sweet potato display with Garnets, Hannah sweets, Japanese sweets, and Jewels. Health-conscious eaters will be looking for feel-good alternatives when New Years’ resolutions kick in so stock up!

Root

Roots are holding steady with a wide variety of options including celery root, rutabaga, parsnip and turnip. In Turnipland, we offer baby white, gold, jumbo purple top, scarlet and white. Try the scarlet for a bright pink pop of color to your root mix. Roots are great healthy alternatives to potatoes—try ‘em roasted, mashed, casseroled or even pickled!

Don’t forget we have horseradish in house. This spicy root adds a nice mustardy zing to roasted meats, baked potatoes and fish. Also from the specialty variety, we have burdock root from California and Oregon in good supply. Burdock root is popular in Japanese cuisine, known as Gobo, and pairs well with Asian aromatics.

We have regular sized red, gold and Chioggia beets and jumbo sized red and Chiogga. Regular Chioggias are limited so order now if you’re a fan! Check out our Forono beets from Coke Farm. These red, cylindrical beets have delicious sweet earthy flavor and are easy to hold and peel. Great for eating or juicing! Beets are a popular ingredient in juices so be prepared for the flurry of detoxers after the New Year.

We have gorgeous Hawaiian turmeric from Maui Olena. Available in 5 and 25 pound bags in each type: Hawaiian Red, Yellow Indira and White Amada. Hawaiian Reds have a robust and earthy flavor while White Amada offers creamy white flesh and the taste of green mango. Yellow Indira boasts the highest concentration of curcuminoids—the compounds responsible for tumeric’s anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Educate customers on the great medicinal and cooking uses for this specialty root.

Hawaiian grown white ginger is in good supply. Prices are low; this is a good time to grab it! We’ll also see some young yellow ginger from Hawaii coming soon!

Squash

Zucchini has great supply with excellent pricing. This is a great item to push when customers are looking for an easy, tasty veggie to mix up the winter veggie routine. We also have some imported sunburst, pattypan and straightneck squash from Del Cabo, grown in Mexico. Known for it’s small, round “flying saucer” shape, the name “pattypan” derives from “a pan for baking a patty.”

All the major California hard squash players are here and going strong: butternut, delicata, orangetti, Kabocha and spaghetti. California acorn squash is done but we have steady supply from Rico Farms in Mexico. Share recipes like Hasselback Butternut Squash to continue to excite customers on winter’s bounty of squash!

Tomato

From Wholesum Harvest, we have steady supply of tomatoes on the vine and petite tomatoes on the vine. The petite TOV come eight in a pack in a 100% recyclable fiber basket. Also from this grower, look for Sienna tomatoes on the vine coming soon. Gorgeous dark burgundy color and powerful tomato taste make this an attractive option for this time of year. In other tomato news, one-layer and two-layer tomato prices are on the rise and Roma tomatoes are limited. On the cherry front, we have sweet sugar plums and mixed medleys from Del Cabo as well as sweet grapes from Good Life Organics, which comes in eco-friendly fiber basket made from old produce boxes! We’re also excited to announce we’re seeing the beginning of heirloom tomatoes from Ram’s Farm in Mexico. Ram’s Farm is located on the tip of Baja, on the protected Sea of Cortez-side of the peninsula. Their unique location allows them to grow delicate heirloom tomatoes exceptionally well at a time when you typically only see rock-hard fully green heirlooms. They have selected a proprietary mix of heirlooms that ship well and still taste delicious by the time they make it to your door.

Too many tomato options? Talk to your Account Manager to see which types are best for your needs!

 

Dairy

Straus Family Creamery eggnog is done for the season. We hope you enjoyed this delicious beverage as much as we did.  We won’t be seeing this item return until next year’s holiday season.

 

Fresh-cut

If you haven’t looked into our fresh-cut program, now is the time. We offer a full line of fruits and vegetables prepared in a variety of ways—peeled, cubed, julienned, sliced just to name a few! When convenience and health are top of mind in 2017, stay ahead of trends by making sure your store, deli and walk-ins are stocked appropriately to take advantage of increased demand. Talk to your Account Manager to see how we can support your value-added program.

We’re excited to introduce two new healthy products from joyloop: organic sweet potato spirals and organic sweet potato “rice.” Both are great alternatives to traditional pasta or grains. Also, check out the zucchini spirals or as we like to call them “zoodles” and cauliflower “rice.” These are great items to promote and have on stock as customers start thinking about healthy eating.

Another great item to stock for the new year are our red cooked beets from Love Beets that are peeled and chopped. The beets are vacuumed packed and cooked sous-vide to maintain freshness. They are also gluten free, all natural and certified kosher, with no added colors or preservatives. Conveniently packaged in 8.8 ounce packages, this item is extremely versatile and can be enjoyed hot or cold in a variety of dishes, from sandwiches to salads and even desserts, smoothies and juices.

 

Grocery

Juice

Love Beets offers delicious beet and beet and ginger juices in 6-pack bases of 14 ounce bottles. Beet juice is full of powerful antioxidants and nitrates, boosting stamina and endurance. All juices are 100% natural and gluten free, with no added sugars, artificial colors or preservatives. Love Beet’s unique filtration system allows for a desirably smooth taste.

Not a beet fan? We also carry lemon juice, apple juice and orange juice from Columbia Gorge in ½ gallon containers.

 

Floral

Hurray tulips are coming, tulips are coming! Watch for Thomas Farms beautiful fresh cut-to-order bouquets to cheer everyone up during the month of January.

 

Merchandising Corner

Fresh Program for 2017

Traditionally the produce department has consisted of a wet rack and a few freestanding dry tables strategically positioned to shout out the seasons through artful merchandising. With the arrival of the value-added fresh category and the refrigerated cases in which they are displayed, this prolific category has put a new spin on resets in the produce department.

Resets are not simply about moving product to adjust to the seasons but also about responding to customer trends and implementing programs to meet those consumer needs. Along with driving sales growth, introducing new programs keeps your customers interested and builds further loyalty.

Value-added produce is one of the leading growth categories in the fresh industry today, and it doesn’t look like it has any intention of slowing down. The opportunity is ripe for produce department managers to work this category into the produce department for 2017 and see a leap in sales and customer appreciation.

When considering refrigerated equipment needs for a value-added program it’s best to first consider the minimum shelf space you need to launch your program and generate enough revenue to keep it going. Then, factor in growth for the next 5 years to consider the appropriate size case needed. Too small and it won’t garner much attention; and too big and it might cause unnecessary shrink.

Each value-added section should have its own personality and reflect the season via the items emphasized through merchandising. Getting creative with your product mix is also a key to the success of your program. You want to inspire shoppers to cook, offering mirepoix, or ready to cook products makes it easy and convenient for them to prepare the meal. If you want to inspire your shoppers to try something new—lead the charge with fresh items that are familiar but unique like pineapple spears with chili and lime or a root vegetable crudité.

The sky is the limit with the fresh value-added category. Start your planning now and surprise your customers in 2017.