Stone Fruit Extravaganza

The arrival of stone fruit is synonymous with the arrival of summer. The two go hand in hand, because really, what is better than biting into a juicy peach or a handful of cherries on a warm sunny day?

A stone fruit, also called a drupe, is a fruit with a large “stone” or pit in the middle. This includes the obvious fruits such as peaches, nectarines, plums, pluots, and cherries, but also the less obvious such as lychee and mangoes. Stone fruit are extremely versatile and can be eaten fresh, grilled, used in pies or cobblers, made into jams, added to salads, and more. Here’s some of the stone fruit you’ll see this season.

Cherry: Cherries are usually one of the first stone fruit on the scene. They are either a sweet variety or a sour variety. The sweet ones are the one commonly found in stores and consumed. They can range in color from dark burgundy to yellow-red blushes.

Apricot: Apricots are delicate and fuzzy with golden blush color. Depending on the variety, apricots have a unique sweet flavor with a zing of tartness.

Peach: Peaches can be yellow, white, short and squat (like a donut), or, more traditionally—heart-shaped. They are ripe when you can smell their scent. When ripe, the flavor is rich and sweet.

Nectarine: Generally larger, nectarines are similar to peaches without the fuzzy outside. They are also not quite as soft as peaches. Nectarines are characterized as freestone, clingstone, or semi-freestone which describes how the pit is attached to the flesh.

Plum: Plums range from sweet to tart. You’ll see plums with red skin, black skin, green skin, yellow skin, or even mottled skin. Their flesh can be dark red, orange or yellow.  Plums have a longer growing season than most stone fruit.

Pluots/Plumcot/Apriums: These are all crosses between plums and apricots, depending on the percentage of each. Pluots are more plums, plumcots are half-half, and apriums are more apricots than plum. Similar to plums, pluots can have dark red, orange or yellow flesh.

 

Keep a lookout for our staff picks noted in orange.

 

Fruit

Apple and Pear

Gala supply is tightening and import prices are going up. Granny Smith are steady with Chilean import supply. Fuji remain in good supply. Plenty of Cripps Pink on hand.

Autumn Bartletts are here now and tasting delicious! Alex Lucas are readily available at a sharp price. Although similar in texture and appearance to the D’Anjou, we think the Alex Lucas is even more buttery and attractive. Alex Lucas also turn a lovely yellow when ripe!

Avocado

Hass availability is strong and deals are available. Ask your Account Manager for the size and price you need. We will pre-condition upon request.

Berry

Strawberry production remains strong locally. Talk to your Account Manager if you’re interested in pallet deals. Blueberry supply is plentiful and steady. Bulk blueberries from Sierra Cascade Organic Blueberry Farm will be available soon. Mexican import blackberries should start to wind down this month and California production should gain momentum. Mexican raspberry season is winding down soon as well.

Citrus

Lemon prices are continuing to rise as supply tightens. Lime prices have been at all-time low but will likely go back up. A small shot of #1 quality Meyer lemons is available. Expect a two- or three- week gap after those are gone. California navels are done for the season. Valencia oranges are in good supply as more California growers come on with their fruit. The last of Golden Nugget tangerines are here now! Look for Peruvian imported Satsumas at the end of June.

Fig

The first crop of Brown Turkey figs from the Coachella region is coming on. It was delayed due to cold weather as the fruit needs heat to color up. The first crop is also known as the “breva” crop. Maywood figs will be ready in late July or early August and are looking great so far. This is, of course, all dependent on favorable weather. Extreme weather or high winds could change availability and quality.

Grape

Grape prices are coming down as California supply picks up. Domestic green Sugarone and red seedless Flame are steady. Mexican seedless Black Royal are also available.

Mango

Tommy Atkins are on hand now. Ataulfo should be back in supply next week. Mangoes are currently transitioning growing regions so supply is limited. We should see more product come on the market mid-June.

Melon

Cantaloupes are coming on slowly. Galia and Honeydew are steady. Orange honeydew has been delayed as the fruit needs more time to sugar up. Mini seedless watermelon is in good supply. We should see seeded bins coming on in the next week followed by seedless bins.

Stone fruit

Stone fruit season is well under way. Supply is strong on Rose Diamond yellow nectarine, Pearl White white peach, and Best May and Princess Time yellow peach. Black plums are slowly picking up. The plum and pluot crop is limited this year. Cooler weather has slowed down the harvest. We won’t see Dapple Dandy pluots until July.

California cherry season is winding down, but there is still plenty of fruit available. We should see Bings for another week or so.  Washington fruit has started with Chelan variety and lower prices.

 

Vegetables

Bean

Green beans are readily available. Look for specialty beans coming on in the new few weeks. We’ll see Romano, French, Wax, and Cranberry!

Broccoli/Cauliflower

Broccoli production remains strong on both crowns and baby broccoli. Cauliflower supply is abundant and prices are sliding.

Cabbage

Green and Napa cabbage have good volume. Red cabbage has promotable pricing.

Celery

Celery is limited and prices are up. Colder temperatures at night have slowed production. Watsonville and Salinas celery production are not expected to pick up until mid-June.

Cucumber

California product is slowly coming on. Persians have sharp pricing. English cucumbers are in good supply. Dragon egg cucumbers are very limited. Aptly named, this variety is cream colored and about the size and shape of a large egg. The flavor is mild and sweet-tasting with little bitterness. Pickling cucumbers have also just arrived!

Eggplant

Mexican globe eggplant is gapping until next week. California-grown globes are starting strong. Specialty varieties are not yet available.

Greens, Lettuce & Herbs

As temperatures heat up in the Central Valley, growers are starting up coastal production for bunched greens. Supply should remain unaffected on most items.

Red butter lettuce is in better supply than previous weeks. Red and green leaf are readily available. Romaine is a bit limited. Cilantro continues to be in strong supply. Bunched basil is coming in steadily.

Pea

Snap peas are very limited. We’re getting all we can! English and snow peas are in better supply.

Pepper

California green bell peppers have started from the Coachella Valley growing region. Orange bells are limited but steady. Red bells are extremely tight. California product is not expected to start until July. Yellow bells are readily available. Jalapeno, Poblano, Anaheim, and Serrano are all steady. Cherry bomb peppers are gapping until mid-June. Sweet peppers are in good supply.

Potato

Russets are limited on 90-count sizes and 10×5-pound bags. Check out our specialty potato offerings. Amarosa potatoes have beautiful deep red color on the skin and flesh. The flavor is sweet and creamy. Mascarade potatoes are one of the most attractive varieties we’ve seen! The skin of this bicolor potato is a brilliant contrast of purple and white abstract shapes. No two potatoes are alike! Inside, the flesh is white and moist which is perfect for baking, mashing, and roasting. Red Lasoda have smooth red rosy skin and waxy white flesh. This variety stores well and is great for boiling since the potatoes never lose their flavor. We have lots of fingerling packs on hand including rainbow fingerlings, fingerling medley, and Russian Banana.

Squash

With summer just around the corner, the summer squash season is in full force with plenty of supply from local California growers. Zucchini is readily available. Crookneck squash is plentiful and promotable. The vibrant yellow color and unusual shape makes this squash a quintessential symbol of summer. The mild and sweet flavor lends itself to any number of dishes, raw or cooked. For squash lovers looking for something more unique to the season, straight packs of Patti Pan, 8 Ball, Yellow 8 Ball and Ronde de Nice are available as well as a mixed medley of assorted summer squash. The round varieties, 8 Ball and Ronde de Nice, are perfect for stuffing!

Acorn, Butternut, and Kabocha squash are limited. Spaghetti squash is steady.

Tomato

One-layer tomatoes are limited. Tomatoes-on-vine and Roma are in good supply. The cherry tomato market is booming with an abundance of California and Mexico product available. Lots of variety on hand! Mixed heirlooms from Mexico are readily available, but straight packs are still gapping.

 

 

Floral

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 Baby’s Breath, Bells of Ireland, Black-Eyed Susan, Calendula, Canterbury Bells, Coreopsis, Cosmos, Lavender, Queen Anne’s Lace, Shasta Daisies, Snapdragons, Spring Wheat, Statice, Sunflowers, and Zinnias.

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, Snapdragon, and Sweet William. These bouquets come in varying sizes: Cutie, Seasonal, and Large Holiday.

 

 

Merchandising Corner

Merchandising 101

Effective merchandising displays drive sales, increase purchasing volume, and lead to repeat visits from customers. Every produce department has strengths and weaknesses; develop a realistic understanding of the physical space your department occupies, so you can emphasize the strengths and play down the weaknesses.

Successful produce displays share these characteristics:

  • Quality produce
    • Cleaning, hydrating, culling, and rotating all contribute to the effort
  • Visually pleasing
    • Enhances the produce item
    • Is neatly stacked
    • Takes full advantage of various colors, textures, and shapes
  • Communicates abundance
    • Create large displays to sell more produce
    • “Dummy up,” or create false bottoms in baskets and crates to give a full appearance without as much pack out. Another benefit: this reduces product damage due to excess weight on produce at the bottom, reducing product shrink
    • Fill “holes” as they occur
    • Provide continuity—use boxes from the label of the displayed product when waterfalling or fronting the product
  • Easy to shop
    • Build displays that prevent product rolling off the top when touched
    • Stack product so customers can easily see into the department
    • Provide great signage:
      • Easy to find, preferably located near each product
      • Clearly communicates key information

Props

Props are needed in produce departments to create visually appealing displays, hopefully increasing impulse purchases. If set right, props create abundant looking displays while reducing the amount of product actually on display. A smaller quantity of product allows the department to keep products fresh