Save the Best for Last

Pixie tangerines are a great way to wind down the tangerine season. As the season comes to an end and starts to transition in to an explosion of berries, Pixies come in and steal the show. It’s hard not to love the sweet, seedless Pixie. Not only are they easy to peel but their juicy sweet-tart flavor make them very easy to eat.

Although Pixies have been around since the 1960’s they were actually developed in 1927 at the University of California Riverside in the Citrus Research Center by Howard B. Frost. When they were first released they were not considered to be a successful crop for commercial growing due to their small size and late season. Who would have known that those two characteristics would help make them so popular? A group of growers in Ojai, California (also known as the Ojai Pixie Growers Association) took a gamble and years later, this little obscure tangerine has skyrocketed all the way to citrus stardom.

Pixies are widely recognized and their arrival is eagerly awaited by many. The season only lasts a few short weeks so don’t miss out!

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

Fruit

Apple and Pear

Many growers are winding down on select apple varieties but we still have plenty of options for all your apple needs. The popular classics, Gala, Fuji and Red Delicious are on hand and holding steady. Granny and Pink Lady prices are expected to go up. Opals are winding down so get these golden beauties while you can! Ambrosias should be available through late March. If you haven’t tried this apple—now is the time. The bi-colored apple has smooth flawless skin with varying shades of pink, yellow and green. The flesh is juicy with a fine, crisp texture and notes of honey that satisfy even the pickiest taste buds!

Pears are plentiful with good supply on Bosc, D’Anjou and Red Anjou. Check out the sharp pricing on Red Anjous from Daisy Girl. We’re seeing high quality on imported Bartlett pears from Argentinian growers Patagonia and Sol Bio. Sol Bio is Argentinian Fair Trade certified.

Avocado

California Hass prices are nearly in line with Mexican grown Hass. All prices are expected to climb as supply is tight overall. Sizing is squirrely on domestic fruit. Green skin varieties are scarce and almost over for the season. Both Bacon and Ettinger are done. The market shows no indication of dropping in price anytime soon. Due to the very strong prices, we are featuring #2 grade Hass avocados, which are just as delicious and the less cosmetically perfect fruit.

Berry

Arizona strawberries from Duncan Family Farms remain steady and quality is great. The berries are nicely colored with sweet and juicy flavor. California strawberry production is starting up so supply will increase as more growers hit the market. Domestic blueberry production is down from Homegrown Organic Farms but with Mexican fruit available, there should be no gap in supply. Raspberry supply is tight as production is down. Prices have increased accordingly and are expected to remain high in the short term. Blackberry supply and prices remain steady.

Citrus

Meiwa kumquats have arrived! This specialty citrus from Rancho del Sol Organics, located in San Diego, California is highly coveted for its sweet candy like taste. Meiwas are similar to Nagami in appearance but with a thicker rind that gives the Meiwas sweeter flavor. We like snacking on them whole but Meiwas are also great for jams, savory dishes and cocktails!

Ojai Pixie tangerines from Shore Packing have started. The popular late season variety is sweet, seedless and easy to peel. We like to call them “edible orbs of sunshine.” Supply is strong on all sizes and expected to last a few weeks. Pixies from Churchill Orchard and other growers from the Ojai Pixie Growers Association will also become available soon. TDEs from Buck Brand are done for the season. Don’t forget about the Golden Nuggets and Murcotts which are tasting delicious and available at sharp pricing.

With the rainy weather behind us, the orange market seems to be leveling out. Cara Cara Navels from Homegrown are winding down but with additional supply from Cousins and Beck Grove, there should no gaps. Blood oranges are in good supply and also expected to be available through mid-April. Valencias are holding steady with both domestic and imported fruit on the market. We’re seeing excellent pricing on the Mexican Valencias.

Ruby grapefruit from B&J Ranch is going strong and expected to go into May or June. Prices are amazingly low so don’t miss out! We love the deep pink color of the fruit and sweet and juicy flavor. One bite and you’re hooked! We’re also offering cocktail grapefruit, officially known as Mandelo. This fruit contains seeds but has excellent flavor—great for delis, food service and juicing!

Mango

The last of the Kent mangos are here–grab some before they’re gone! Tommy Atkins from Mexican grower Artesanal are in good supply with attractive pricing. Try adding these to your ad program for a pop of color. Ataulfo mangos, also known as Honey mangos are also available. Talk to your Account Manager if you’re interested in ordering this variety.

Pineapple

The pineapple market is tight and supply is limited. Poor weather in Costa Rica combined with several other factors has contributed to the worldwide shortage of pineapples. As the major player in import pineapples, changes to supply in Costa Rica has a large impact to the rest of the market. There has been a gradual decline in Costa Rican pineapple growers as small/medium growers have been taken over by larger brands and other growers have switched to cultivation for processing.

Specialty Fruit

Cherimoyas, also known as the custard apple, have arrived! This specialty fruit has a greenish-yellow skin and creamy white flesh similar in texture to pear or papaya. The flavor is sweet and tart reminiscent of a mix of pineapple and banana. Neither the skin nor the large black seeds, which are toxic when crushed, are edible. Cherimoyas are usually eaten like an apple, scooped out with a spoon, or cut in half lengthwise and peeled. We get all the passionfruit we can, but supplies are very erratic.

 

Nuts and Seeds

Nuts and seeds are great way to give your grocery offering a boost. With an increasing number of consumers focusing on health, seize the opportunity to promote the many positive benefits of nuts and seeds.  Our nut availability includes: almonds, cashews, and walnuts as well as sunflower and pumpkin seeds, all sourced from local California farms. Our nuts are offered in several pack types and available shelled or roasted and salted.

 

Vegetables

Artichoke

Artichokes are tight but we’re seeing steady supply from Lakeside Organic Gardens. Prices are high and larger sizes are not yet available. The recent warm weather has been enjoyed by all except for the ‘chokes who prefer it colder!

Asparagus

California asparagus season is well under way. We’re seeing beautiful green asparagus coming in from Durst Organic Growers, located in the Capay Valley. Capay Organic, also growing in the Capay Valley is starting soon. There’s also plenty of Mexican asparagus available at sharp prices. Purple asparagus is finally available but limited. Prices are high but have come down slightly since the start of the season.

Bean

The green bean market is tight and prices are way up. Recent rain in Mexico has caused quality issues and has heavily impacted supply. Product from a new lot is coming in with much higher quality.

Bok Choy

Bok choy supply is steady but limited. We expect the supply to last until more fields are ready for harvest.

Broccoli

The broccoli market is very tight with prices on the rise. As we move deeper towards the end of winter production in the desert, supply will become increasingly limited. Once production out of Salinas improves in April, prices should come down as the market levels out.

Brussels Sprout

A once abundant Brussels sprout market is once again tight with limited supply. No California product is available but Mexican grown sprouts are still flowing in.

Cabbage

Cabbage prices have gone up as the market has tightened. Fortunately, we do not expect any gaps in supply from our growers. Varieties are less abundant but we’re still seeing plenty of green, red and Savoy cabbage.

Carrot

Something Good/Givens Farms and Sunrise Organic Farm are both experiencing a short gap in bunched carrots. However, with plenty of product from other growers, supply is steady. We’re loving the Nantes carrots from Full Belly Farm right now. This heirloom variety has sweet juice and smooth tender skin. We like them raw but they’re also delicious roasted and pickled!

Cauliflower

Cauliflower supply remains tight and prices continue to increase. Supply will likely become even more limited as growers wind down their production in desert growing regions. We expect the market to stay in flux until local growing regions ramp up.

Celery

The celery market has tightened a bit and prices have climbed. Overall, supply is steady with both domestic and Mexican product available.

Eggplant

Graffiti eggplant is very limited. Globe eggplant is holding steady with great quality from Nature’s Nectar in Mexico. When buying eggplants, look for ones with smooth, firm, unwrinkled skin and a fresh-looking, green stalk. We love the versatility of globes—from ratatouille to babaganoush and stir-fries, this veggie has an expansive presence across cuisines.

Garlic, Ginger and Turmeric

Argentina imported white colossal garlic from Dovex is a must-try. The heads are large and beautiful! Yellow ginger is steady with both Peruvian and Hawaiian grown product available. Galangal is available for preorder. Galangal is a member of the ginger family but not actually the same as ginger. Its flavor is stronger and more astringent—think zingy, spicy, fragrant, with herbal notes. Talk to your Account Manager if interested! Due to labor issues, there is a delay in shipping of turmeric from Hawaiian grower, Maui Olena, however supply is strong.

Greens

Bunched kale supply is tight and may become more scarce before April. Bunched spinach is very limited and quality is down due to the recent fluctuating weather and current transition. Chards and collards are faring better with more steady supply.

The boxed greens market is particularly tight at this time in the season when growers are transitioning from desert regions to local growing regions. Spring mix is available with steady supply. Baby spinach is somewhat limited and wild arugula is extremely limited. Greens from the desert region are not meeting quality standards and impacting supply. We expect this tightness to last through this month and possibly into the beginning of April. Increasing mildew pressure, combined with multiple late-season rain events and high demand has impacted the greens market significantly.  In addition, extreme weather in the Salinas Valley over the past month or two, has caused the transition to fall behind schedule.

Leek

Leek supply is strong and quality is high. We’re seeing beautiful green leaves and long stems from Rodoni Farm near Santa Cruz and Terra Firma Farm located just west of Sacramento, California. And don’t forget our long-time supplier, Ralph’s Leeks, who offer a stockier variety. Add to your display or menu for a burst of color. We recommend trying a leek and potato soup—especially with one of our new specialty variety potatoes.

Lettuce, Retail Greens and Herbs

Romaine supply continues to be very tight and prices are high. We’re seeing some gap in supply on red leaf lettuce; however, green leaf has more availability. Growers are transitioning out of desert regions in the next few weeks so supply for most lettuce varieties should improve. High temperatures in the desert are further impacting supply during this transition period.

Retail greens are experiencing similar supply trends as the rest of the greens market. However, in most cases, raw product is prioritized for retail cases so supply is limited but more slightly more steady. The market should improve towards the beginning of April.

Cilantro supply is tight and prices are on the rise. Basil is steady with supply from Maristone Farms and Jacob’s Farm. Quality is strong. All other herbs are in good supply.

Onion

California and Nevada yellow onions are winding down for the season. We’ll be sourcing from the Northwest until short-day onion growers start up towards the end of April. Long-day onions are expected to start up in June. There should be no gaps in supply. California red onions should be available through early April, after which product from the Northwest and Mexico will hit the market. California white onions should last until the end of March and we’ll see Mexican onions in April.

Pea

English peas are limited and prices are up on both snap and snow peas.

Pepper

The pepper market is tight with limited supply on green, yellow and orange bell peppers. Prices are up. Red bells are more readily available and better pricing. Poblanos have been very limited—we hope to have some in-house soon!

Potato

We’re at the point in the season where new crop potatoes are starting to make an appearance. Red Lasodas from Full Belly Farm in Capay Valley has us in spud heaven! This beautiful red potato is a great boiling potato since it never loses its flavor. Also from Full Belly, we have the golden creamy Bintje potatoes that are delicious fried—especially as French fries. Let’s not forget the wunderspud German butterball. It has everything you could want in a potato: heirloom quality, slightly flaky, deep golden flesh, irresistible flavor AND can be used in almost any preparation.

Roots

Parsnips are experiencing a gap in supply as growers are out harvesting more roots. Rutabaga and turnips are steady at they go with abundant supply available. If you’re looking for beets—we have plenty of bagged red, gold, Chioggia and even jumbos! Terra Firma Farm’s bunched red and gold beets are earthy and gorgeous!

Squash

Soft squash is still limited but we’re seeing some yellow straightneck from Wholesum Harvest. Zucchini is holding steady with lots of supply coming from Del Cabo. As for hard squash, butternut and Kabocha are steady. Limited amounts of spaghetti and red kuri are popping up but not likely to be constant. Acorn squash is expected to arrive soon. Excellent pricing on utility butternut—let your Account Manager know if you’re interested!

Tomato

We’re excited to announce that Wilgenburg Greenhouses is starting with heirlooms. Run by Hans Wilgenburg, this farm has been operating for 30 years in Dinuba, California. Wilgenburg offers really excellent quality produce due to their gentle “kid gloves” handling and controlled greenhouse growing methods! We’re also seeing beautiful mixed heirloom tomatoes from Ram’s Farm, grown in Mexico. At the peak of their season, this grower has hit their stride with attractive pricing and consistent and reliable quality. Prices are up on one and two layer slicer tomatoes but supply is steady.

 

Fresh-cut

Did you know we offer fresh-cut items for most fruits and vegetables? Our fresh-cut program includes hundreds of items prepared in a variety of ways—peeled, cubed, julienned, sliced and more! We can even do custom mixes!

We’ve seen increasing popularity for retail packs of fresh-cut vegetables from joyloop. Their items include zucchini spirals, sweet potato spirals, sweet potato “rice” and cauliflower “rice.” All items are sold as 8×8 ounce packages and have a long shelf life of 10-12 days. Stay ahead of consumer trends by making sure your store, deli and walk-ins are stocked appropriately to take advantage of increased demand for convenience items. Talk to your Account Manager to see how we can support your fresh-cut program.

 

Floral

The Full Belly Farm spring floral collection is just beginning! Anemones and Ranunculus are ready for pre-order. Full Belly Farm tulips are coming soon; they specialize in “fringed” tulips, also known as Parrot tulips. Also coming in a week or two, incredibly aromatic Sweet Peas, and bright and healing Calendula flowers. Check in with your Account Manager for pack types and pricing. Thomas Farm tulips have recovered from the rains, as warm weather continues and fields are able to dry out. It is full steam ahead for both growers!

 

Merchandising Corner

All About the Pixie

Pixie tangerines are small and paler in color than some of the other widely known varieties such as Minneolas, Clementines and Murcotts. They are seedless and easy to peel like another favorite, the Satsuma Mandarin. Even though these little super stars are gaining in popularity, you will find many customers are still unfamiliar with this variety.

Sampling product to customers is a great way to win over new fans. This will give you the opportunity to spark conversation with your customers and educate them about the Pixie. Building a larger focal point display is also helpful to bring attention to a new item. When encouraging customers to try something new it is often a great idea to suggest ways to enjoy or prepare the item. Besides being great for kid’s lunches and just plain eating, Pixies are great segmented into escarole salad with goat cheese and vinaigrette and they make an excellent citrus flan. There are so many uses for this special citrus and there are endless recipes to offer curious customers. Before introducing a new item, spend some time researching common and unique preparation ideas.

Once you have shared a Pixie with someone who is new to them, you have made a loyal Pixie fan for life. These incredible tangerines never disappoint. Grab some now because their season is short and you don’t want your customers to miss out!