When Life Gives You Meyer Lemons

Meyer lemon season has picked up and we’re seeing ample supply of this delicious fruit on the market. So what’s the scoop on this unique variety? Meyer lemons are thought to be a cross between a true lemon and a mandarin or orange. Meyer lemons are native to China and was introduced to the United States in the early 20th Century by Frank Meyer, from whom they also got their name. This sweet citrus also gained popularity during the California Cuisine revolution when many chefs began featuring it on their menus.

While they are both lemons, Meyers are very different than your common lemon variety such as Eureka or Lisbon.  Comparing size and shape, Meyer lemons are rounder and smaller. The skin is smooth, thin and can range from deep yellow to orange. Most notably, Meyer lemons are much sweeter in taste with moderate acidity, lacking the mouth puckering tang one would get from eating a segment of lemon. The rind is fragrant with notes of herb and spice.

Meyer lemons can be used in any preparation common lemons are used. Whether used for its fragrant zest, sweet juice and segments or even candied whole, Meyer lemons are a versatile summer citrus.

 

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

 

Fruit

Apple and Pear

Gravenstein apples are here! This heirloom variety is grown in California’s Sonoma County—where it was first planted in 1811. Gravensteins serve as a symbol for the region’s historical agricultural traditions. The apple has a crisp and juicy texture and a flavor that is aromatic and full of old-fashioned, sweet and tart flavor. It is known for its all-purpose versatility as a terrific eating, sauce and pie apple. Famous botanist, Luther Burbank praised the apple, “It has often been said that if the Gravenstein could be had throughout the year, no other apple need be grown.” California Gala have come on and supply is steady. California Granny Smith is still 3-4 weeks out.

California Bartletts have started from Viva Tierra Organic. Smaller sizes are in good supply; larger sizes are very limited. Hosui Asian pears have started. This variety is often considered the best tasting pear by pear and fruit lovers alike. Hosuis are round and apple shaped with crispy texture. They start out pale green but turn a golden bronze hue as they ripen. The flavor is juicy and sweet! California Bosc is expected to come on this month along with Starkrimson from the Northwest.

Avocado

Supply is winding down from our main grower, Las Palmalitas, (and everyone else, too!). Mexican supply is also expected to be short until October.  Particularly small sizes and #2 quality fruit is very limited. Prices are extreme and won’t come down until the Mexican crop really kicks in in November.

Citrus

The citrus market has improved. Valencia oranges are in good supply with several growers on the market. Grapefruit is steady. Choice fruit quality from Eco-Farms is great!  Lots of lemons available—supply is strong. Meyer lemons are plentiful. If you haven’t tried this sweet citrus yet, now is the time. They are thought to be a cross between a regular lemon and a mandarin orange. Meyer lemons are acidic but have less of the tang as regular lemons. They are much sweeter and their rind has a complex herb scent. Limes are in good supply with plenty of Mexican grown fruit to supplement California’s limited supply.

Fig

Figs are starting to ramp up! Calimyrna open pint baskets have come on along with Black Mission figs; both are in good supply. Maywood Farms, located not far from Mount Shasta, has started with Brown Turkey figs and hopefully will have some Black Mission soon. Extreme summer temperatures in their area is very impactful to the supply.

Grape

Champagne grapes have started. This specialty variety is prized for their small size and sweet flavor. The skin is delicate and thin with a beautiful magenta color. Inside, the flesh is translucent green with intensely sweet flavor and just a hint of tartness. Bronx and Thompson are on the horizon. Look for Thomcord grapes soon! This hybrid variety combines the popular Thompson seedless grape and Concord grape for an aromatic “labrusca” flavor mellowed by the Thompson’s mild sweet taste.

Mango

Kent mango from Del Cabo is starting. These mangoes are grown exclusively in the Los Cabos region of the Baja peninsula, which has uniquely been designated a pest-free area. So unlike most other imported mangoes, Del Cabo’s do not require chemical or hot water treatment—a requirement that disrupts the ripening and compromises the integrity of the fruit. Instead, Del Cabo farmers harvest fully tree-ripened mangoes under the desert sun at their peak flavor. The fruit is creamy in texture and offers a rich fragrance.  These mangoes are also Fair Trade certified which means a premium from each sale goes back to programs to support the workers. The season lasts a short three weeks so don’t wait to try these delicious mangoes!

Melon

The seeded watermelon market is getting tight. Seedless bins and mini cartons are in better supply. Cantaloupe is steady and prices are dropping. Honeydew is plentiful. New in specialty melons are Snow Leopards from Say Hay Farms. This elegant melon is as delicious as it is strikingly attractive. The skin is smooth and light yellow in color with flecks of green. Inside, the flesh is pale and white with sweet flavor reminiscent of honeydew.  Lots of tasty specialty varieties available including: Ambrosia, Canary, Sharlyn, Charentais, Goddess, Haogen, Piel de Sapo, San Juan and Orange Honeydew. Grab a few different types for a robust summer melon display!

Pineapple

Pineapple is very limited. A supply shortage on the East Coast is impacting the West Coast market. Prices are on the rise.

Specialty Fruit

Dragon fruit has started and supply is steady. This beautiful and unique looking fruit has sweet kiwi-like flesh inside that varies from white to pink to red. The variety that we carry normally has magenta colored flesh.  The fruit’s outer skin is cactus like (but no spines), resembling that of the scales of a mythical dragon. High in antioxidants, fiber and vitamins, this is definitely one of the best “super fruits” out there. To enjoy slice lengthwise and either scoop out the flesh, or quarter it and peel back the leathery skin. Passion fruit supply is still going strong with sharp pricing. Tart, sweet and slightly acidic—this flavor is perfect for ice cream, smoothies and even cocktails!

Stone Fruit

Northwest supply of cherries is finishing up and Rainier cherries are done for the season. White Lightening apricots are here and in good supply. White nectarines are back in good supply after some tightness in supply earlier in the season. Prices are promotable. Yellow nectarines are in slightly better supply but still limited. Our Redhead nectarines from Ferrari Farms are a staff favorite for their beautiful yellow flesh with red streaks and bold juicy taste! Yellow peaches are in better supply now than they have been all season. Fruit is larger and prices are coming down slightly. Black plums are in decent supply; the red plum market is strong. Pluots are plentiful with many sizes and varieties available. Honeypunch pluots have sharp pricing and make a great promotion item.

 

Vegetables

Bean

Prices are coming down and supply is steady on green, yellow and Romano beans. Romano beans, also known as Italian flat beans or Italian pole beans are flatter and meatier than your standard green bean. The flavor is mild and Romano beans can be enjoyed raw or lightly cooked. The meatier texture also lends well to longer cooking preparations.

Broccoli/Cauliflower

Broccoli supply is still limited due to quality and aphid issues. Crowns are gapping. Prices are expected to remain high. Cauliflower supply is also very limited due to similar issues.

Cabbage

Red cabbage supply is steady. Prices are still on the high side. Green cabbage is in good supply.

Celery

Celery supply is good and growing. Price has been steady but may drop as more supply comes on the market.

Eggplant

Chinese and Japanese varieties are limited. Fairy Tale, Listada de Gandia and Rosa Bianca are in better supply. With their miniature form and beautiful purple and white stripes, Fairy Tales are almost too cute to eat. Cuteness aside, Fairy Tales are less seedy and less bitter than their large Italian counterpart.

Lettuce and Greens

Boxed greens have been steady and availability is improving. Baby spinach and spring mix are both in good supply. Bunched Dino aka Lacinato kale is limited. Green kale is in better supply. Rainbow chard is plentiful. Romaine lettuce is expected to have good volume.

Onion

Heavy rains earlier this year in California pushed back plantings and also washed away many onion seedlings. Growers are starting to see the full impact on supply this season. The onion market is tight and prices are high, but we do not anticipate any gaps in supply. Red onions are limited. White onions are limited on large sizes. Yellows are in better supply but not yet steady. Shallot supply is strong. We don’t expect to see peeled shallots until mid-September.

Pea

The pea market is picking up. Snap peas are in good supply; prices are falling. Snow peas supply is improving.

Pepper

Green, orange, red and yellow bell pepper supply is strong. As for chilies, jalapeno is steady and poblano supply is improving. Open pint Padróns are a great summer pepper for grilling and frying. Check out serrano peppers, which have a Scoville rating of 10,000 to 25,000, for more heat!

Potato

Russets from the Northwest have started to come on. Red and yellow potatoes from the Northwest are in good supply. Quality is high and prices have started to come off. Lots of specialty potatoes available including Bintje, Mascarade, Colorado Rose and Yellow Finn. Yellow Finns are all-purpose potato with beautiful golden-yellow flesh and delicious creamy texture perfect for gratins or roasting.

Roots

Mexico grown jicama is done for the season. There will be a gap in supply until California growers start up mid to late August. Celery root, purple daikon and watermelon daikon are also gapping.

Tomato

Heirlooms are in good supply and prices are expected to come down. Comanche Creek is winding down but there are still several growers on the market. Lots of mixed and straight packs available! Romas continue to be limited. Cherry tomato supply has been tight due to excessive heat waves in Northern California growing regions impacting production levels. Early girls are starting to come on with both dry farmed and non dry farmed fruit available. Look for these under the “Saladette” tomatoes on our list.

 

Fresh-Cut

Summer is in full swing and it’s time to stock your shelves with summer picnic and BBQ essentials. Customers will be searching for healthy and fresh items for their celebrations. Now is the time to inventory your fresh-cut displays and make sure it has the latest and greatest of popular items such as cut melons, veggies for crudité and more. Don’t have a fresh-cut program? Talk to your Account Manager about getting started today! Our list includes hundreds of items prepared in a variety of ways—peeled, cubed, julienned, sliced and more! We can even do seasonal custom mixes (think guacamole kits and fruit salad mixes).

 

 

Grocery and Dairy

Have you tasted freshly made tofu? Hodo Soy tofu is made from organic, non-GMO, U.S. grown whole soybeans. This Oakland, California based company has a mission to craft the highest quality tofu and create innovative and delicious tofu-based artisan foods that will change how you think of tofu. The difference is in the ingredients and how the tofu is made. Hodo Soy starts with select, organic soybeans that are ground to a puree with optimum thickness using a very fine stone grinder. The puree is then simmered and pressed to extract the “bean juice.” This juice or soymilk is the base ingredient in all Hodo Soy products. To make tofu, calcium sulfate, a naturally occurring mineral is used to coagulate the soymilk. The coagulated soymilk is broken into curds to release whey and the curds are deposited into cheesecloth-lined molds which are then hand-wrapped and pressed. Hodo Soy tofu has on average 50% more protein than other tofu on the market.

We also offer Stueve Farm organic and biodynamic certified eggs, a variety cheeses from Sierra Nevada Cheese Company, organic milk and yogurts from Straus Family Creamery, maple products from Maple Valley Co-op Creamery, Mi Rancho tortillas, Wild Rose Farms quinoa, Masa Farms brown rice, and Marian Farms raisins and almonds. Talk to your Account Manager to learn more about our certified organic grocery program.

 

Floral

Our floral program carries fresh flowers from Full Belly Farm and Thomas Farm, updated weekly for new seasonal varieties and mixes. Check with your Account Manager and subscribe to our weekly floral availability list for the most up to date details. Thomas Farm is offering Dahlia, Cosmo and Sunflower straight packs. Thomas Farm Sunflowers are sold by 16 count bunches with 5-7 stems per bunch. Full Belly has added many new flowers to their offering including Strawflowers, Lacy Blue Statice, Zinnias, Cocks Comb, Lisianthus, Marigolds, Sunflowers (5 stems per bunch, 5 bunches per box) and more! Mixed bouquets from both growers are also available in various sizes.

Nothing brightens a room quite like a beautiful bouquet of fresh flowers. Whether you’re looking to bolster summer sales or attract more diners, you need to check out our organic floral list. Shipped in buckets with water, but packed inside boxes, organic flowers travel well, and stay fresh longer than non-organic flowers.

 

Merchandising Corner

Utilize Ad Programs

  • Expand your set. Large impactful sets help fuel the customer’s impression of the value of an item. If you put an item on Ad, it is probably your strategy to increase the sales volume of that item. Make sure the set expands to a size to meet your sales goal. If the goal is to increase sales volume by 10%, increase the display to a size corresponding to 10% growth.
  • Spread the wealth. When multiple items are on Ad, distribute the items throughout the department. This helps give your customers a sense of value in many areas as they walk through the produce section. The initial set a customer sees upon entering the area should be a seasonal Ad item. As customers continue shopping, additional Ad items in high traffic areas create more impulse purchases.
  • Mix your margins. When building larger Ad sets with lower margin items, make sure to incorporate partnered impulse items with greater margins to help offset the lower margin item’s impact. This is a great way of blending margins to achieve your target while also building the customer’s basket size (for example, combine a set incorporating tomatoes on Ad with bunch basil priced at a higher margin).
  • Make sure Ad item signage is unique from regularly priced items and easily identifies the item as “on special.” Keep all Ad signage consistent, so customers immediately recognize Ad items. Increase interest by displaying the signage so it is easily read from multiple paths the customer may take to the set.
  • Provide your team with knowledge. Make sure every team member knows the unique facts about Ad items. Speaking knowledgeable with customers about grower, season, length, uses and taste profiles differentiates your store from a competitor with a like item on AD. Building customer product knowledge helps increase future sales of items when the item is no longer on Ad.