Shake Your Pom-Pom

Many wait all year for pomegranates, often referred to as poms, to come in season. Although it’s tricky to get to the actual seeds, the delicious flavor and many health benefits, make this super food well worth the effort.

Pomegranates originated in the region from modern-day Iran to northern India. There is mention of the fruit dating back to the early Bronze Age. It was introduced into Spanish America in the late 16th century and into California by Spanish settlers in 1769. Today, it’s widely cultivated on most continents and a symbolic fruit in many cultures.

Pomegranates grow on shrubs or small trees with flowers. The skin can vary from pink to deep red. Inside the fruit are hundreds of edible seeds covered in pulp that ranges in color from white to deep red. Did you know pomegranates can contain anywhere from 200 to 1400 seeds? The seeds, which can be compressed to make pom juice, contains high levels of antioxidants and fiber. Generally, sweeter than tart, poms lend amazing flavor to any number of dishes—salads, drinks, desserts, sauces, and more!

 

Keep a lookout for our staff picks noted in orange.

 

Fruit

Apple and Pear

Lots to report from the wonderful world of apples. Arkansas Black have come on. This heirloom variety dates back to the 1870s. It has a lively red color that deepens to purplish-black when ripe. Juicy texture and aromatic flavor make this variety a favorite every season. Caville Blanc is a world-renowned dessert apple dating back to 16th century France. It has a distinctive flattened round shape and tart, effervescent flavor. Some believe Cavilles to be the “best apple pie apple grown.” Mutsu (aka Crispin) ranges in color from green to yellow with orange blush. It’s crisp, pale yellow flesh is aromatic, juicy and sweeter than tart. However, it is tarter than either of its Golden Delicious or Indo parents. These are great all-purpose apples! Kanzi apples are an attractive addition to displays with their beautiful red and yellow skin. It is a cross between a tangy sweet Braeburn and a juicy Gala. Talk to your Account Manager about your apple needs—we have something for everyone including cost effective bins!

The pear season is well under way and we have many varieties to choose from. Bartletts have great promotable pricing. Plenty of Bosc, Comice, Seckel and Starkrimson on hand.

Berry

Strawberry prices are up slightly but supply is steady. Blueberries are limited and expensive. We may see import raspberries from Mexico starting to come on in the first half of November. Cranberries are readily available—it’s time to start planning for the Thanksgiving holiday rush. Ask about our bulk pack!

Citrus

Navel oranges are starting to come on. Supply is limited to start but will improve as more growers ramp up. We may see some import Valencias from Mexico early this month. Rio Red grapefruit is in good supply and prices are coming down. Ruby grapefruit have started! Satsuma tangerines have started but supply is limited as growers are waiting for more fruit to color up. Limes are plentiful. Finger limes are available for pre-order. Meyer lemons are somewhat limited but steady.

Kiwi

Kiwi supply is strong—plenty of bins to keep you going through the holidays. Adorable kiwiberries are still readily available as well.

Persimmon

All hail the persimmon! The market is strong and prices are coming down. Fuyus are from biodynamic grower, Beck Grove, located in Southern California. This variety is great for eating fresh, when the fruit is firm and crisp. Add to salads, pizzas, cheese plates and more! Hachiyas need time to ripen but when they do—the creamy sweet texture is well worth it! We love this variety for baking.

Pomegranate

Pomegranate supply is strong and steady. We have lots on hand. Check out the bins for a great volume deal. Don’t forget about arils! These are packed in clamshells for fast, easy, no-mess use!

Specialty Fruit

Quince, the quirky fruit is readily available. Completely inedible raw, quince is best for cooked dishes. We love the delicate fragrance of vanilla, citrus and apple it releases when left out at room temperature. Guava is in good supply. The sweet flavor and high levels of pectin in guava makes it perfect for preserves, jellies, jams as well as juices and agua frescas. Sapote (aka Mexican apple) and jujube (Chinese date) are also available.

 

Vegetables

Asparagus

Supply from Mexico appears to be improving. Prices are sharp and promotable.

Bean

Green beans are readily available with strong quality. We’re also seeing a full range specialty beans such as Yellow or Chinese Noodle.

Broccoli/Cauliflower

Broccoli prices have been fluctuating due to changing harvest projections. Overall supply in November should be steady but prices may be on the higher side as we near Thanksgiving. The cauliflower market is still volatile due to quality issues. We don’t anticipate any gaps in supply but prices are not yet settled.

Brussels Sprout

Plenty of brussels sprouts on hand for the holiday season. Check out the popular retail pouches and brussels sprouts stalks!

Carrot

The carrot market has picked up a bit but prices are still high. Rainbow carrots from Cal-Organic are back in supply; juice carrots are still very limited.

Celery

Celery has been in good supply and prices have been steady. The market should be relatively stable through Thanksgiving.

Cucumber

Persian cucumbers are very limited and prices are high. English cucumbers are steady in supply but prices have inched up slightly. California grown slicer cucumbers are done for the season. Supply is coming in steadily from Mexico.

Greens, Lettuce & Herbs

Availability of specific labels for boxed greens may be hit or miss as growers transition to the desert, but supply is expected to be uninterrupted. Fall production for bunched greens is in full swing. Chard prices have fallen. Little Gem lettuce is readily available while iceberg supply is very limited. Red leaf and Romaine are steady. Holiday mixed herbs are starting and replacing regular mixed herbs during the holiday season.

Onions

Yellow onion supply is strong as we head into the holidays. Medium red onions have promotable pricing. Red cippolinis are flowing in steadily; yellow cippolinis should be following suit.

Pepper

Red bell peppers have limited supply and will likely gap on choice grade product. We’re still seeing some supply of California orange and yellow bells but Mexico product should be ramping up soon. Green bells are still in good supply from local California growers. Jalapenos continue to be tight and expensive. Supply from Mexico is expected to come on soon and should improve availability.

Potato

Specialty and fingerling potatoes are in abundance right now. French, Russian Banana, Austrian Crescent, Amarosa, mixed medleys and more!  We love the has bright red skin and vibrant pink-red flesh of the delicious Amarosa potato. The Huckbleberry Gold is a Thanksgiving must-have. This potato is purple on the outside and golden colored inside. It’s creamy, buttery texture and delicious flavor has earned it a cult following. Purple ‘A’ potatoes offer earthy and nutty flavor in addition to a heaping dose of antioxidants.

Roots

After a challenging start to the season, roots are finally in good supply with a large mix of varieties. We’re seeing all types of radish, daikon, turnips and more. Our current favorite is the rutabaga— are a cross between a cabbage and a turnip. Pureed, mashed, roasted, this root is a versatile as any potato (but healthier!) Don’t forget to stock up on horseradish—a popular holiday dinner staple. Let us know if you’re looking for a root not on our list!

Squash

Warm weather is keeping California zucchini supply going strong. Prices on Mexican product has dropped; California prices will likely come down as well. Straightneck squash is plentiful with sharp pricing. Lots of hard squash varieties on hand. Prices are starting to drop going into November. Time to plan ahead for the inevitable holiday rush—we have prebuilt pallets and mixed squash bins available. Stock up now to ensure you have enough supply for holidays!

Sweet Potato

‘Tis the season for sweet potatoes! Supply is steady Garnets, Hannah Sweet, Japanese Sweet, Jewel and Purple Stokes. Did you know we offer prebuilt pallets of any combination of these five varieties? Talk to your Account Manager for holiday planning and volume deals.

Tomato

Roma supply has picked up and should continue to be strong. Warm weather has extended California cherry tomato season but growers should be winding down soon. California heirlooms are in the last stretch for the season. There may be a gap in supply if California finishes up before Mexico heirloom growers come on in mid-December. Early girls are just about done for the season. We may see a few here and there, if we’re lucky!

 

Grocery and Dairy

Did you know we sell maple products? We are currently offering a full line of delicious maple products including maple syrup in various size packs, maple sugar candy, and even whipped maple cream (great on toast, pancakes, yogurt and more!) All products are certified organic and great to have as we head into fall. The products are sourced from Maple Valley Co-op, a producer co-op modeled after famed Organic Valley.

 

Floral

All fresh flowers from Full Belly Farm and straight packs from Thomas Farm are officially done for the season. Thomas Farm will continue to offer seasonal mixed bouquets. However, with the change of the seasons, we’re excited to reintroduce dried bouquets and dried wreaths from Full Belly Farm. Dried wreaths are sold individually—each one is unique and different! Dried bouquets are sold in 6 counts. Dried floral arrangements are great centerpieces and gifts for the holidays.

 

Merchandising Corner

Thanksgiving Displays

Now that the holidays are fast approaching, it is time to start thinking about your holiday displays. Items like Garnet sweet potatoes, yellow onions, Russet potatoes and Butternut squash are all items that you can start stocking up on now and increasing their display size. Not only will this encourage more sales by providing the larger displays but you can also start to claim your holiday space and begin to plan for the week before the Thanksgiving shopping surge. The five days right before the big holiday is the time you really want to expand your displays on all heavily in demand Thanksgiving items. During this small window of time your department will sell anywhere from 10 to 50 times the normal amount on items like: celery, parsley, brussels sprouts, thyme, rosemary, cranberries, chestnuts, Pink Lady and Granny Smith apples, Garnet sweet potatoes, Russets, Yukons, carrots, yellow onions, Butternut and other winter hard squash. A department that does around $40,000 a week might want to consider bringing in a half pallet of Garnets and building a big impressive display to promote sales and do the same with yellow onions. If your weekly department sales are more around $60,000, you could easily move a full pallet of those two products.

Since the few days before Thanksgiving is such a hectic time, think about some short cuts you can make that will save you and your staff time. For instance, don’t spend time prepping your celery. Products like this will be moving so fast that you will be not only saving time but you’ll be able to keep the product stocked out on the floor more consistently. You might consider the same thing with your parsley and any bunched greens you may be stocking during those few days. Any time you can save yourself in the backroom is more time you and your staff can spend out on the floor providing customer service and making sure the department looks good. Keeping the department full and having staff to help customers will make a huge difference in your sales volume.

If you are lucky enough to work in a store with a deli, chances are they will be running a holiday menu. It is a good idea to get some of the recipes for popular side dishes and desserts printed out and placed around the produce department.  Customers are always looking for great new ways to prepare their favorite produce items. If you don’t have a deli to partner with you can always look up some recipes on line yourself like roasted brussels sprouts with bacon, stuffed acorn squash, wild rice with cranberries and chestnuts or even the traditional standard sweet potatoes with marshmallows. There are always people who appreciate recipes and will gladly use them. Now get out there and take on the holiday!

 

 

 

 

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