Season Favorite: Minneola Tangelo

Although many citrus varieties look alike, Minneloas are easy to recognize with their knobby “neck” and elongated bell shape. The Minneola is a cross between a tangerine and a grapefruit. They are so distinctive, they earned their own classification, the tangelo.

The first crosses were done in Florida in 1897 and California in 1898. The Minneola itself is a hybrid of the Bowen grapefruit and the Dancy tangerine. It was first released in 1931 by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Horticultural Research Station in Orlando, Florida named after the small nearby town of Minneola, Florida.

The Minneola is the most popular of the tangelos and it’s easy to see why. The intense tart flavor of the tangerine comes through, tempered by the flowery taste of grapefruit resulting in balanced sweet-tart and very juicy flavor. The skin is bright reddish-orange and easy to peel. Bonus: there are essentially no seeds!

The season only last a few months so don’t miss out on the perfect fruit to eat right now. Minneolas are also great for juicing. Available in a variety of sizes to meet your tangelo needs!

 

Keep a lookout for our staff picks noted in orange.

 

Fruit

Apple and Pear

Washington supply on Fuji and Gala is strong and expected to continue for several months. Import Galas will start to hit the East Coast in mid-March but will mostly likely stay there. Washington fruit has sharp pricing and will most likely be more aggressive than import pricing. The last Opal are in-house now. Honeycrisp continues to wind down. Supply is limited while demand remains high. Granny Smith is finishing up but should continue through March. Pink Lady is readily available. Prices are sharp.

We’re winding down on Washington grown pears. Bosc and D’Anjou on hand, but not for long! Import Bartletts from Argentina are expected to come on around the 20th of this month.

Avocado

Hass supply is still erratic domestically. Prices are generally stable. #2 Hass are limited. Fuerte is expected to go for another couple weeks. Lamb avocadoes have good supply. This relatively new variety (developed in 1985 in Camarillo, California) is larger and rounder than most other varieties. It has very dark skin pebbly that gets darker as it ripens. The flesh is green, nutty and creamy—even creamier than Hass!  Two new varieties we have yet to see this season, Ettinger and Whitsell are coming on soon. Whitsell is an “heirloom” type that looks just like a Hass, with great taste. Ettinger are similar to Fuerte—pear shaped with thin, bright green skin and pale green flesh. The taste is mild and delicious. Both Ettinger and Whitsell are used as pollinators. Bacon is available but only larger sizes.

Berry

With the recent fair weather, there has been some light local strawberry production. We’re also bringing in fruit from Ventura County, California from new label Wholesum Berries, a partnership between Wholesum Harvest and Nature Ripe.

California blueberry supply is steady. Imports are gaining steam. Chilean blueberry production will be in peak supply over the next few weeks.  Mexican blueberries are in better supply.

Citrus

Lemon prices are on the rise. Meyer lemons have strong volume. Plenty of choice fruit available as well. Finger limes are gapping in supply while the fruit sizes up for harvest.

Pomelo are in good supply. African Shaddock has a pleasant fragrance when stored at room temperature. The flavor is sweet but complex! Thai Sweet is very sweet and juicier than most of the other pomelo varieties. African Shaddock and Thai Sweet are the grower’s (Buck Brand) favorite! This variety is a cross between the Siamese Sweet Pomelo and a hybrid of a mandarin and a blood orange.

The Mexican Early Valencia variety is transitioning into Valencia. Supply is limited but should improve soon. Cara Cara Navels are abundant—lots of delicious fruit available! Navels prices are climbing but supply is steady. We have Seville and Zulan on hand. The bitter flavor makes this the perfect marmalade orange!  Blood orange supply is steady but may not last long. This variety is popular through Valentine’s Day and pretty much as long as they are in season!

TDE tangerines are past the halfway mark of their season and winding down. We expect to have supply for a couple more weeks but this popular tangerine may end fast. Fortunately, there are lots of new varieties coming on. Murcotts are starting up a lot earlier this year and will likely not be around in late April as in previous years. Golden Nuggets are coming on. Look for Pixies at the beginning of March. Although many citrus varieties look similar, the Minneola is easy to recognize with its knobby “neck” and bell shape. Easily the most popular of the tangelos, Minneolas are full of sweet tart flavor.

Kiwi

Gold kiwi is done for the season. New Zealand imported gold kiwi will be available in May.

Mango

Kent mango, imported from Peru, is plentiful. Price is promotable—volume deals are available! Ataulfos, from Mexico are also readily available. The golden skin and buttery flesh earns this variety the name of ‘Honey Mango.’

Melon

Mini seedless watermelon has steady supply. Prices are coming down. Mixed melons are gapping until February 19th.

Pineapple

Pineapple is becoming a bit more limited. We may see small gaps in supply.

Stone fruit

Last chance for New Zealand plums! Get ‘em while we have them!

 

 

Vegetables

Artichoke

Supply is tightening up with less availability on some sizes. Prices are up slightly.

Asparagus

An uncharacteristic warm winter means we’ll likely have an early California asparagus season. Look for more local product soon. In the meantime, prices are very sharp on Mexico product.

Bok Choy

We’re still hearing reports of aphid pressure of desert growing regions for baby bok choy and bok choy. Supply from Capay Valley, California grower, Riverdog Farm is still a couple weeks away.

Broccoli/Cauliflower

Broccoli supply is very strong and prices remain low. Cauliflower supply is still strong but we may see supply tighten up soon. Purple and cheddar cauliflower are plentiful—grab these specialty brassicas to brighten up your display shelves!

 

Brussels Sprout

Prices are competitive as supply is abundant. Volume deals available for both California and Mexico product.

Celery

Supply is still going strong and prices remain low.

Cucumber

Bulk Persian cucumber is gapping. Clamshells are more readily available. Slicer cucumbers are plentiful; prices are inching down.

Garlic & Ginger

Domestic garlic is finishing soon. Argentina-grown garlic is plentiful. Peeled garlic from the U.S. still has availability. Peruvian ginger is winding down. Prices are on the rise. We’re expecting a gap in ginger supply in the next two weeks that may last through March.

Greens, Lettuce & Herbs

Lettuces are in good supply. Bunched dino aka lacinato kale and chards are in strong supply. Green kale and collards are steady. Boxed greens are faring better than before but stability is uncertain. The transition back to Salinas Valley and coastal growing regions from the desert regions of California and Arizona is planned for late March to early April. Stay tuned for more updates!

Mushroom

Shiitake and oyster mushroom clamshells from Far West Fungi will be changing from 8 count per case to 12 count per case. The unit price will remain the same.

Pepper

Orange, red and yellow bell peppers are readily available. Supply is steady. Poblano peppers are back in supply.

Potato

We’re excited to introduce new crop red and golden potatoes from Road Twenty Farm. The red potatoes are roughly rounded to oval in shape and available from size ‘A’ (large) to size ‘C’ (small). Golden ‘A’ is limited but “B” size is in good supply. Available for wholesale exclusively through Veritable Vegetable, these spuds look beautiful and taste amazing. The first potatoes have been hand dug to ensure sizing, consistency, and yield. Fresh potatoes (never stored) are harvested, cleaned, cooled, and shipped out in short order. Fresh potatoes cook faster and have an earthier flavor. Learn more about the Road Twenty Farm potato harvest here.

Road Twenty Farm is a project of Food Commons Fresno, an initiative for growing a community food system that fosters health, stewardship, equity, and economic development in Fresno and the surrounding San Joaquin Valley. Fun Fact: Road Twenty Farms grows in the land that was previously occupied by T&D Willey Farms. The Willeys, potato experts, consulted on the Road Twenty Farm potato harvest.

Root

Parsnip supply is becoming less available. Rutabaga and turnips are still plentiful. Jicama should be coming on soon. Beet supply is strong except for jumbos, which are limited.

Sweet Potato

Sweet potato prices have increased. Purple Stokes are steady.

Squash

Zucchini prices have come down; supply is abundant. California Acorn squash is done but with Mexican crop on hand, we do not expect any gaps in supply. Butternut is steady. California Kabocha and Delicata are winding down. Spaghetti squash is readily available with both California and Mexican crop on hand.

Tomato

Heirloom tomatoes are still in good supply. We love these tomatoes, grown by Ram’s Farm in Baja California Sur, Mexico for their consistent quality and delicious flavor. Sold as a mixed medley, the pack may include Brandywine, Black from Tula, Kellogg’s Breakfast and Red Ananas.

 

Fresh-cut

New Organic Riced Veggie retail packs from Earthbound Farm will be available starting February 19th. Riced veggies are precut vegetables that are “riced” into small rice-size pieces with a base of cauliflower. This new product satisfies consumers demand for healthy and convenient items that are also the perfect carb replacement. The packs are available in three mixes: Cauliflower Medley, Cauliflower & Broccoli and Cauliflower. Sold in 14-ounce bags (6 units per case), these packs will be available for preorder only.

 

Floral

Thomas Family Farm is taking some time off to recuperate after Valentine’s Day. The next available day for floral delivery is Thursday, February 22nd. Due to unusually warm weather recently, tulips were limited for a bit but supply should smooth out soon. Offerings from Thomas Family Farm come in three different sizes. Cuties are a great grab-and-go option. The Seasonal mixes work wonderfully for display as a centerpiece, and the large Holiday bouquets pull out the best colors of the season!

Full Belly Farm is also starting their floral harvest, with their first pick of the season, Anemones! It has been an uncharacteristically warm season which means spring flowers are available in February! We caught up with Dru Rivers, co-owner of Full Belly Farm for an inside scoop of what is to come: expect Ranunculus soon and then Calendula. We’ll be in full floral swing soon after that!

 

 

Merchandising Corner

Successful Banana Management

Bananas are the top selling produce item in the United States and usually number one on the list of top ten items sold in a grocery store. This is one item retailers can always count on to move at consistent high volume. With a little bit of tracking and planning, you can always have plenty on hand of the right color.

The most important detail to successful banana sales is proper color. Most customers buying bananas are buying fruit to last them a few days so they are looking for #3 to #4 color of ripeness. A #4 is mostly yellow with green tips and #3 is a little more green than yellow. Some shoppers will be looking for #5 of #6 color which are all yellow and ready to eat that day. Having consistent attractive color banana options (rather than too green or over ripe), will make it easier to maximize banana sales and have consistent sales.

The best way to do this is set a standing order of bananas with your supplier. If you have access to daily movement reports you can use that information to see how many cases you sell a day, which enables you to figure out how many cases of bananas will get through until your next delivery. It’s a good idea to pad that amount slightly with greener fruit because you don’t want to run out. The next thing to consider is your delivery schedule. If you are not getting daily deliveries you will want to get bananas of varying color from #4 to possibly as green as #2. This will ensure that you have #4s on hand for your day of delivery and others on hand to ripen for the next day’s sales.

An attractive and full banana display is also important to maximizing banana sales. It’s good practice to always have enough on hand to be able to fully stock your banana display before closing. Not only does this keep your display full and appealing but it is one less thing for your opening crew to do in the morning.  Bonus: your top selling item is fully stocked, perfect and ready at the open of business the next morning.

So now that you have some handy tricks to keep your daily sales running smooth, let’s talk about holidays. It’s common to overlook holidays and end up with too many bananas on hand. Having an abundance of over ripe bananas can cut into your margin. The two most important holidays to be concerned with are Thanksgiving and Christmas. Banana sales drop dramatically for both holidays 3 to 4 days before and 3 to 4 days after. Cutting your orders back by a fourth is an ideal place to start. Again, if you have access to movement reports you can see what you sold for that window of time the previous year and get a more exact estimate. If you have standing orders with vendors, giving at least a two weeks notice of any change to your order. Other holidays that might warrant monitoring inventory numbers are the ones in which your store closes early like Labor Day or 4th of July.

Last, but not least, don’t forget about seasonal temperature. If you are in an area that is subject to extreme heat and cold it is good practice to change your banana color for your orders with the change in season. Ordering greener (#2-#3) bananas in late spring and summer and more yellow (#4-#5) in winter is smart planning. This is really important if your bananas are stored in a back room where temperatures closely mirror outside temperatures. Heat is a key factor in banana ripening. Greener fruit in warm months and more ripe fruit in the colder months will help maintain optimal ripeness options when the fruit ripens slower due to temperature. With these tips you are sure to have a great grip on the sales and movement on your most important produce item.

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