Stocking up for the New Year

Now that we have made it through the two big produce holidays it’s time to prepare for the onslaught of New Year’s ‘get healthy’ resolutions revolving around eating healthier and juice cleansing. Customers will be hitting up the produce, fresh-cut and deli sections looking for fresh produce options. Keep your fresh-cut displays looking fresh and well stocked for convenient shopping. Broccoli and cauliflower florets, trimmed green beans and precut “mirepoix” or veggie soup combinations are fresh-cut all-stars.

Plan ahead and anticipate your customers juicing needs. Popular juicing items include: apples, cucumbers, celery, ginger, garlic, kales, carrots, beets, oranges, lemons and avocados. Be ready to answer questions about items for juicing, the shelf life of fresh juice, favorite combinations for juicing and more. Go one step further and have juice recipes printed ready to hand out to customers new to juicing and looking for ideas.

Lastly, make sure to have ample supply of your staple items, whatever they may be. Health charged customers are ready to fill their baskets with fresh items. Use this opportunity to plan ahead and provide a positive shopping experience for customers, which includes having fully stocked shelves. Kick off the New Year with a healthy bang!

 

Keep a lookout for our staff picks noted in orange.

 

Fruit

Apple and Pear

We’re seeing competitive prices on Braeburn, Fuji and Gala. Delicious Pink Lady are plentiful. Honeycrisp are finishing up. Opals are tasting juicy and crispy. These are great for cheese plates and garnishes thanks to their anti-oxidizing properties. Good supply of Granny on hand. Heirlooms are winding down and priced to move.

We’re seeing the last of 20th Century and New Century Asian pears. Bosc and D’Anjou on hand now. Comice will arrive the first week of January. Red D’Anjou are in high demand. Import Bartlett from Argentina will be here in March.

Avocado

We’re seeing limited flurries of California Hass, but only in big sizes right now. All sizes of California-grown Hass will be starting in late January, but in limited quantities. The winter season means green-skinned avocados reign supreme. Bacon, Fuerte and Zutano are readily available. They are uniquely light but still supply the creamy buttery texture that avo-lovers crave. Think affordable and local green-skin guacamole for your Super Bowl promotions.

Berry

California blueberries are plentiful. Supply should remain steady. Blackberry has good volume but demand appears to be up. Product is moving quickly. California strawberries are weather dependent, but without much rain, winter production marches on.

Citrus

Lots to report on the citrus front. Finger limes are available from several growers. Mandarinquat and kumquat are starting soon. Limequats, a cross between a key lime and kumquat are here now. This hybrid fruit has sweet skin but bitter and sweet pulp. The fruit can be eaten whole or the juice and rind can be used to flavor drinks, and dishes. Lemonade lemons have started. This variety has the appearance of a classic lemon from the outside. Inside, it has sweet aromatic flesh that is easy to segment, like a mandarin. The fruit is less acidic than other citrus. Meyer lemons have strong availability.

Marsh Ruby grapefruit from Coachella Valley grower, B&J Ranch is finally here! Grapefruit from this grower is eagerly anticipated by our staff, customers and citrus lovers as it is sold exclusively through VV. Ruby grapefruit has yellowish peel with areas of pink and green blush, often caused by the cold temperatures the fruit endures in the desert in the Coachella Valley of Southern California. Cut it open and you’ll find segments of deep pinkish-red flesh with sweet juicy flavor and some seeds. Melogold and Oro Blanco grapefruit from beloved citrus label Buck Brand have arrived. Both these varieties are a cross between a pomelo and grapefruit which makes them similar to a sweet grapefruit. Pomelos are in good supply. Look for the African Shaddock variety coming soon. Get ready for Lunar New Year by featuring all kinds of pomelo, a luck bearing fruit!

Navels are readily available. Cara Cara Navel have started up with steady volume. They are juicy, sweet and a current staff favorite. We should see some blood oranges early next week. Fairchild tangerines are ending soon as Dancy tangerines are starting up. Dancy 3-pound bag bins are available for pre-order. Clementine tangerines have good volume, including 5-pound gift boxes. Satsumas are still available but ending soon. Get them while you can! Our darling Kishu mandarins have come on. This delicious bite-sized fruit is seedless and perfect for guilt-free snacking!

Date

As healthy eating resolutions take effect at the beginning of the year, make sure your date selection is stocked.  Dates are rich in vitamins, minerals and fiber. Because of their sweetness and texture, dates are often used as an all-natural sweetener; date sugar is the most easily digestible of all sweeteners!  The ever-popular Medjool date has an extraordinary sweetness and a delightful chewy texture. Deglet dates are firmer and less sweet than the Medjool variety. We also carry a handful of delicious date products such as Coco Rolls, Almond Nuggets, Date Paste and Walnut Rolls.

Kiwi

California green kiwi is steady. Fun Fact: Kiwifruit was originally named “Chinese Gooseberry” since the vine that produced the fruit was native to Northern China. It spread to New Zealand where the first commercial vineyards were planted. The fruit was later re-branded as kiwifruit because of its resemblance to the New Zealand kiwi bird.

Mango

Tommy Atkins are abundant with sharp, promotable pricing. Ask your Account Manager about volume deals. Ataulfo should be available starting mid-January.

Melon

Mini seedless watermelon is ending soon. Galia melons are available but with high prices given the tight market. Galias have yellow-orange skin with light netting and pale green flesh that is uniquely sweet, spicy and aromatic. Harper melons should start soon.  All coming from Mexico!

Pineapple

Mexican grown pineapples are readily available. Costa Rican fruit is a bit more limited in supply.

Stonefruit

We are happy to offer sweet red cherries from New Zealand, the first good crop in 3 years from the Southern Hemisphere!  Get ‘em while you can! Plums from Argentina and New Zealand are expected to arrive in February.

 

Nuts

There’s nothing nuttier than customers clamoring for roasted nuts during the winter months. Be prepared and check our inventory of tasty nuts!  Almonds are available every which way: roasted, roasted and salted, or shelled non-pariel. Walnuts and assorted nut mixes round out the selection. Check our list often for more offerings.

 

 

Vegetables

Asparagus

Asparagus is gapping in supply until mid-January.

Bean

Cold weather continues to keep green bean supply very tight.

Broccoli/Cauliflower

Broccoli and cauliflower supply are tightening and prices are up.

Cabbage

Green cabbage supply is strong from multiple labels. Red cabbage is also steady. Savoy and Napa may be a little limited.

Carrot

Bulk carrots are steady; prices have stabilized. Bunched Nantes carrots are readily available.

Celery

Supply is tight and prices are up.

Cucumber

Persian cucumber clamshells continue to gap. Bulk supply is also less available. Slicer cucumbers are tight. Europeans ‘cukes are holding steady.

Eggplant

Globe prices are on the rise. Graffiti is steady.

Greens, Lettuce & Herbs

Pie Ranch will be closed for winter break so we won’t be seeing greens from this grower until the first week of January. However, there should be no change in supply with plenty of product from other growers. Kales and chards are steady. Escarole is readily available with strong quality. We’re loving the bitter winter veggies like Castelfranco radicchio. This Italian winter green has beautiful butter yellow leaves with red-violet spots and veins. The flavor is bitter with sweet undertones. Try it raw in a salad or cooked with some lemon juice or balsamic vinegar. Treviso radicchio is more easily recognized with its characteristic red and white leaves. The crunchy texture and unique bitter taste lends itself to any number of dishes.

Salinas Valley and coastal growers are done with lettuce with for the season. Desert supply has picked up steadily. Cilantro and parsley prices have increased, due to frigid desert conditions which have caused supply to tighten up. Chives, tarragon and marjoram are gapping due to quality issues. Oregano and basil are not consistently available. Herb plants are tender!

Mushroom

Crimini is in good supply through the New Year. Oyster mushrooms are limited due to cold weather and lower production. On the specialty front, Lion’s Mane are limited but Maitake, Chanterelle and Trumpet Royale are readily available. We’re offering a special price on the Trumpets for the next two weeks, so act now!

Pea

Mexican English peas have come on. Snap peas and snow peas are readily available.

Pepper

Orange and yellow bell peppers are back in steady supply. Red bell pepper price has started to come down from previous levels as supply improves. Chilies have good volume. Sweet peppers are limited.

Root

Parsnip, rutabaga and turnips are in good supply. Jicama may be more limited. When the low-carb trend picks up steam this New Year, roots are a delicious substitute for potatoes and other carbohydrates. Just replace potatoes with roots in any recipe. Mashed roots and root vegetable gratin are easy ways to eat more nutritious roots!

Squash

Zucchini supply is very tight. Product is hard to come by and expensive. Yellow and specialty squash have not been available. Hard squash, on the other hand is readily available with lots of variety including: Acorn, Butternut, Carnival, Delicata, Kabocha, Red Kuri, Spaghetti, Sweet Dumpling and Sugar Pie Pumpkin. Mexican-grown squash has started. Overall prices are expected to drop.

Tomato

The tomato market is tight. Prices remain high on one and two-layer tomatoes, but volume should improve soon. Romas and tomatoes on vine, also known as “TOV,” are very limited. Cherry tomatoes are seeing better availability after a short gap. In happier news, Mexican heirlooms have arrived! As production gets underway, we should see steady supply.

 

Dried Fruit

Dried persimmon slices from Biodynamic producer Beck Grove are a naturally sweet and delicious snack! We have plenty of dried raisins available in every variety: red, green and black. Sundried tomatoes have sweet, concentrated tomato flavor that makes it the perfect addition to any savory dish.

 

 

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 2018, 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.

Looking for retail fresh-cut items? Josie’s Organics has a new line of fresh cut organic vegetables that are delicious and convenient. The line includes Broccoli & Carrots, Broccoli Florets, Broccoli Slaw, Cauliflower Florets, Green Beans, Power Mix and Vegetable Medley. All ingredients are washed, cut and ready to be eaten or cooked. Bags are 9-12 ounces depending on the ingredients and sold 6 bags per case.

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

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 grapefruit, lemon, lime and orange juice from Columbia Gorge.

Don’t forget the maple syrup for customers clamoring for the Master Cleanse! We offer maple syrup in various pack types from organic producer, Maple Valley Co-op. Cross merchandise with lemons and cayenne for more effective sales.

 

 

Merchandising Corner

Winter Wonders

Summer is known for its bounty of stone fruit and ample supply of berries but what comes to mind when you think of winter? Greens and root vegetables? While that is true they are surely not the only shining stars of the winter months. Citrus loves cold weather and there are many fantastic varieties to be enjoyed. But what else does California have to offer us at this time?

Let’s take a look at some of the great produce winter has to offer.

California actually has some wonderful winter blueberries. Homegrown Organic Farms provides us with a small window of availability around the beginning of the year.

Kiwi are a winter favorite that we are lucky to be able to grow locally here in California. Kiwi were only released to us by New Zealand in the 1990’s. Until then, all kiwi was imported to the US from New Zealand. There is a California Kiwi Commission that enforces strict standards on growers to keep the kiwi’s reputation integrity intact. It’s super serious business! Kiwi are often over looked when thinking about vitamin C but did you know that the unassuming fuzzy brown fruit has 5 times the vitamin C as an orange? It’s true and the skin is also completely edible.

Escarole, Frisee, Castlefranco and Treviso radicchio are other winter gems. These members of the chicory family are delicious succulent bitters that are great additions to any salad. They pair well with citrus, nuts and cheeses.

Bulk beets are in abundant supply at this time of year too. Bunched are sometimes hard to find due to weather conditions damaging their greens but you’ll always be able to find topped loose beets. At the beginning of the New Year, many people start juicing and beets are usually at the top of the juice list. Of course, beets are great for more than just juicing like baked or roasted and added to salads or sandwiches or pureed and added to soups.

Turmeric comes around again this time of year. One of the great things about turmeric is that it can be frozen and keeps quite well this way. That is a helpful suggestion to pass along to customers that panic when turmeric is in between seasons. Not only does turmeric have great medicinal qualities but it is a necessity for many recipes. If you are a fan of fresh turmeric over dried turmeric powder, stock up and keep a stash of frozen puree on hand in the freezer. That way you’ll always have some on hand for juicing, teas and cooking.

When planning your winter produce sets, don’t just focus on the obvious seasonal citrus. Save some space for these other notable items and help create new customer favorites by sharing some of this information with them.