With summer just around the corner, it’s time to get excited for melons! Although often overlooked next to summer’s more vibrant melons, honeydew—particularly ripe honeydew during peak season–is glorious!
A ripe honeydew bursts with floral sweetness, dripping with juices that taste very much like honey. Its pale green rind surrounds similarly pale green flesh and white seeds.
Honeydew is the American name for the White Antibes, a variety of melon that was cultivated in southern France and Algeria centuries ago. It is popular in Chinese culture and is known as the Bailan melon. Honeydew and other melons are part of the cucurbitaceae (gourd) family, which is divided into fruits (melons) and vegetables (squashes, pumpkins, and cucumbers).
When selecting a honeydew, look for one that feels heavy for its size and has a waxy, not fuzzy, rind. The surface should bounce back when pressed. While we prefer honeydew fresh, it can also be added to any number of sweet and savory dishes including salads, ice cream, smoothies, and more!
Keep a lookout for our staff picks noted in orange.
Apple and Pear
Washington supply of Fuji, Gala, and Granny is winding down fast. Import Gala, Braeburn, and Fujis have started up. Domestic Pink Lady are done but we have a small shot of Cripps Pink cello bags and more Cripps coming at the end of May.
Alex Lucas supply is limited. This buttery green pear is similar in appearance and texture to D’Anjou. Alex Lucas also turn a lovely yellow when ripe! These won’t last so get them before they are gone! Autumn Bartletts are in-house now. Abate Fetel and Bosc are still available. We also have Red D’Anjou available which makes a great red pear option.
Local strawberry supply is in full swing. Supply is plentiful. Blueberries and raspberries are steady.
Many citrus growers are peaking on 63 count and 75 count lemons. Prices are promotable. Lemons are predicted to be tighter this summer. Meyer lemons prices are going up as supply tightens. Lime prices are coming down. In the past two weeks, we have seen a big price drop. Buck Brand has steady supply of finger limes. They have sharp pricing on 1-pound preorders. Ruby grapefruit from B&J Ranch is done. There is still supply from other growers; expect a price increase. Valencia oranges are readily available. The last of Golden Nugget tangerines are here now!
Domestic green Sugarone and red seedless Flame have started from California. Flames are a cross between Thompson seedless, Cardinal and several other varieties. They are sweet and crunchy with a beautiful deep-red color—perfect to kick off the grape season! Red seedless Flame and green seedless Perlette are also available from Mexico. This early-season variety is light in color—almost frosty green with a translucent cast. The berries are nearly round. Overall, the domestic grape crop will yield high numbers and should eventually make prices very competitive this season.
California-grown kiwi is winding down. New Zealand fruit will be in available in a couple weeks.
Mini watermelon is in good supply from Mexico. California growers will start watermelon bins and mini seedless on May 30th. We expect to have a strong watermelon season, lasting through Labor Day. The cantaloupe market is tight with limited sizes and high prices. Tightness should ease up once California growers come on this week. Several growers reported late frost having a huge impact on melon yields and are not waiting for warm weather for the crop to sugar up. In addition to cantaloupes, expect to see honeydew, orange honeydew, and Hami melons just in time for Memorial Day celebrations.
Stone fruit season is off to a slow start due to cold weather. Apricots and apriums have started but remain very limited. Supply should improve as the season progresses. Early season varieties available include May Bright yellow nectarines and Polar Light white nectarines. Look for Arctic Sweet white nectarines coming soon. Best May peaches, Sauzee Queen donut peaches, and Pearl White peaches are here now. Flavorosa pluots have also started! Cherry supply is tight due to much smaller and shorter California crop this year. Chelan cherries have come on. Look for more Coral Champagne soon. Prices may remain strong until Washington starts their harvest at the end of June.
Asparagus prices are up; supply is tight.
California green beans have good volume which is expected to last for the next two weeks. We’re seeing very promotable pricing on fava beans.
Cauliflower is in good supply. Product quality is high. Broccoli is in better supply than in previous weeks.
Red cabbage continues to be limited as it has been for a few weeks now, but supply should be improving soon. Green cabbage is steady.
Domestic slicers are limited; however, supply is steady with plenty of Mexican product available. Persian cukes have strong volume.
Prices have dropped on Mexican globe eggplant. California product is still limited. Graffiti eggplant has been tight due to quality issues.
Greens, Lettuce & Herbs
Arugula and baby spinach are a little limited. Bunched greens overall are in good supply. Green kale is plentiful as several growers have volume supply. Red and green dandelion is steady. Collards are seeing promotable pricing. Rainbow chard and fennel are readily available.
The lettuce market is steady on most varieties. J.E. Perry Farm has started with their lettuces under the Trina/Perry label. It’s been a slow start for the farm and green leaf and green butter are both limited. Romaine is starting soon with iceberg set to come on in July.
Italian parsley may be limited as two of our main growers are coming up short on their harvests. Cilantro is holding steady at sharp pricing. Bunched basil from Road Twenty Farm is starting and should come into volume in about a week.
California yellow onions have started. Mexican reds and whites are continuing; California product is a couple weeks out. Shallots are still gapping until late June or early July.
English and snap peas are readily available. Prices are sharp!
The green pepper market is tight; both California and Mexico product are limited. Prices are going up. Orange bells, on the other hand, have strong volume. Jalapeños are coming into better supply. Poblanos and Anaheims are limited while Serranos are still gapping.
Russet potatoes are ending soon. Local specialty potatoes are starting soon. Look for lovely Red Lasodas, French fingerlings, and more!
Washington rhubarb will be available for two more weeks.
With spring comes the abundance of squash! Zucchini supply is plentiful. Prices are coming down slowly. Lots of yellow squash and other specialty varieties on hand including straightneck and crookneck. We’re seeing beautiful mixed medley packs from Chico grower Comanche Creek.
Kabocha squash is winding down while Spaghetti is still in good supply. Butternut and Acorn are limited. Delicata is done until the California season starts up.
Full Belly Farm’s large mixed bouquets offer a little of everything that is being harvested right now. Expect to find about 12 to 15 stems per bunch of seasonal varieties including Spanish Iris, Calendula, Godetia (red and pink), Agrostemma, Snapdragon, Delphinium, and Bachelor Button.
Sunflower straight-pack bouquets are now available from Thomas Family Farm. Look for Dahlias coming soon! In the Thomas Farm mixed bouquets, you will see many if not all of the following varieties: Sunflower, Iris, Godetia, Protea, Saponaria, Snap Dragon, and Sweet William. These bouquets come in varying sizes: Cutie, Seasonal, and Large Holiday.
Summer Merchandising Tips
With summer fast approaching, it’s time to think about revamping or even starting up a fresh cut program to maximize your summer produce sales. Providing easy grab-and-go precut food options is a great way to boost your sales and help keep your shrink down on fragile items like grapes, berries, and stone fruit. Cut melons such as honeydew and cantaloupes filled with riper berries and fruits are a delicious and attractive quick-grab snack for customers. When working in a produce department, we all find those loose grapes, over ripe berries and bruised stone fruit everyday while stocking the displays. These items can be easily used to fill the center of hollowed-out melons. Single-variety cut-and-wrapped melons are also easy and always popular. If you already have a well-established precut program you most likely have a source, like our Bay Cities line of precut items. or perhaps you are hand-cutting at your location. Wherever you are sourcing your product, adding seasonal fruits like berries and cherries to your pack is a great way to add some seasonal flair.
The seasonal goodies aren’t just limited to fruit. There are plenty of summer veggies you can quickly prep and add to the precut grab-and-go case. One vegetable that is quick to prep and attractive when displayed is split artichokes. Cut the top inch off of the ‘choke to remove most of the spikes, then cut lengthwise and include a half of a lemon as well. Present on a small oven-ready aluminum tray or paper tray and now these artichokes are ready for the grill or oven. There is no limit to the fresh-cut combinations you can provide for your customers to make their shopping more convenient and in turn increase your department sales.
Chopped mixed beets, sliced squash, asparagus, mixed peppers, and mushrooms are just a few. If you haven’t yet set up a fresh cut area in your department, now is definitely the time to get moving! Market trends show that customers are turning more toward convenient precut produce items and ready-made meals. Talk to your Account Manager about starting a fresh cut program today!