Summer Blues

 

With the 4th of July just around the corner, make sure you’re stocking up on seasonal items, especially blueberries! No holiday is complete without the quintessential flag cake with blueberries for stars.

Blueberries are perennial flowering plants with blue-purple berries. They are part of the genus Vaccinium, which also includes cranberries, bilberries and grouseberries. During the commercial production of blueberries, the smaller species are known as “lowbush” or “wild” blueberries. The larger species are known as highbush varieties.

Blueberries are found in many different varieties and many regions of the world. Their flavors can range from mildly sweet to tart and tangy, and their colors can vary from many subtle shades of blue to maroon to very dark purple. Many blueberry varieties feature a white-gray waxy “bloom” that covers the berry’s surface and helps serve as a protective coat.

On a worldwide basis, more blueberries are grown in the U.S. than in any other country, and the U.S. produces more pounds of blueberries than any other country. Total world production of blueberries is approximate 1.5 billion pounds.
Some consider blueberries to be the world’s healthiest food. Aside from their delicious flavor, they have long been valued for their anti-inflammatory phytonutrients which are attributable to dozens of health benefits. To maximize the amount of nutrients and taste, enjoy blueberries fresh and at the peak of their season (now!)

 

Keep a lookout for our staff picks noted in orange.

 

Fruit

Apple and Pear

Gala pricing will remain strong. Fuji supply is steady. Cripps Pink is readily available; prices are promotable.

Alex Lucas pears are plentiful. This delicious variety is similar to D’Anjou, but even more buttery and attractive, especially when they turn a lovely yellow when ripe! Great for eating fresh, adding to salads, juicing, and more! Autumn Bartletts are here now and tasting delicious!

Avocado

Avocado prices have been trying to creep up, but demand has not necessarily followed suit. Hass supply is relatively stable. Aggressive prices are available on volume quantities, and certain sizes. This week 2-layer 32s are a deal from Allied Avocado & Citrus in Fillmore, Central Coast of California.

Berry

Strawberry supply is steady. It is common for berries to be a little smaller in size as they tend to color faster at this point in the season. However, the fruit is tasting great! Blueberries are readily available. Blueberries from the Northwest regions have started, which may affect the prices for California product. Check out Sierra Cascade Blueberry Farm blueberries! These are heritage-variety highbush blues grown in Chico, California. Picked at the peak of ripeness, these berries are sweet, plump, and flavorful! Available in 10-pound loose bulk pack and 12×6-ounce clamshells. California blackberry production from the Santa Maria region is just starting to pick up as local production winds down. Mexican imports are not available. Raspberry production from Mexico is expected to end this month. There is no California raspberry supply available.

Citrus

California Valencias are in good supply. Mexican Valencias are done for the season. Lemons continue to be tight. Meyer lemon prices are going up as supply remains limited. Limes are plentiful; prices are very competitive. Look for Satsumas arriving from Peru at the end of the month!

Fig

The first crop (or the breva crop) of Black Mission figs has come on at a great price. This popular variety has purplish-black skin and pink-colored flesh. They are ready to eat! The taste is rich, sweet, and jammy. Brown Turkey figs are also available. This variety has purplish-brown skin with occasional greenish color surrounding the stem and amber flesh inside. The flavor is sweet and mild.

Grape

Grape prices are down a bit as supply picks up. Red seedless Flames and green seedless Sugarones are readily available. Seedless Black Royals are a staff favorite! They have a juicy sweet flavor and striking blueish-black skin.

Melon

Galia is extremely limited. Cantaloupe and honeydew are steady. Orange honeydew is very limited; we’re getting all we can. Hami has good volume in all sizes. The Hami melon is oblong in shape with orange flesh. Its flavor is similar to that of a very sweet cantaloupe but with a firmer crunchy texture. Mini seedless watermelon is abundant. Check out bin options for seeded and seedless regular size watermelons. Supply is steady and the fruit is great—juicy and sweet!

Stone fruit

Washington apricots are predicted to start this week and bring prices down. Blenheims are readily available right now. This apricot variety is delicious to eat right out of hand. The honey-like flavor has the perfect balance of sweetness and acidity. Look for Golden Sweet apricots soon—a hybrid mixed with Blenheim. Prices on yellow peaches are coming down, particularly on smaller sizes; supply is plentiful. White peaches are a little more limited. White nectarines are steady.

The black-skinned Red Raven plum, a staff favorite with deep red flesh and a cherry-berry flavor, are almost done for the season. Red plums are in good supply, with Showtime and Yummy Rosa our top flavor selections. Early Dapple Dandy pluots will run for another week; the next pluot coming our way is the Dapple Fire from Wild River in the upper San Joaquin Valley. California cherries are done for the season. The market overall has been a little erratic; prices are getting softer, but not rapidly, except on the smallest fruit. The pretty Rainier variety has arrived from the Northwest, and sizing is large this season. We expect our dear friends at Columbia Gorge to start their red cherry crop at the beginning of July.

 

Vegetables

Broccoli/Cauliflower

Broccoli supply has tightened due to some quality issues. Prices seem to be steady. Cauliflower supply has been tight but is due to trickle back. Heat and aphid pressure have been major issues impacting supply. Romanesco is gapping.

Cabbage

Green and Napa cabbage continue to be in good supply. Red cabbage supply is still spotty; prices remain high.

Carrot

Bunched carrots continue to have good supply. Bulk carrots are steady.

Celery

Production is up and supply is starting to look steadier. Prices should ease.

Corn

Sweet corn is coming on just in time for 4th of July celebrations. White corn is readily available. Both the kernels and milk are creamy white in color. Bi-color corn has both yellow and white kernels. Now is the time to enjoy sweet corn! At peak ripeness, the kernels are tender, sweet, and succulent. We love to enjoy fresh corn Mexican-street food style. After grilling, coat the corn cob with organic mayo or butter and dust with cotija cheese, cayenne pepper, chile powder, and lime juice for a homemade elote.

Cucumber

California continues to be limited on slicer cucumbers. Mediterranean cucumbers are steady and delicious. Mexican-grown Persian and English Hothouse are limited and may gap as a result of a storm in the growing area. California specialty ‘cukes are in better supply. Lemon cucumbers are round and yellow with a mild cucumber taste. Contrary to their name, they do not have a lemon taste—only color and shape! For something a little more exotic, check out Painted Serpent cucumbers. These unique cucumbers have dark and light green stripes and can grow up to 36” long and curl into snake-like shapes.

Eggplant

We’re seeing an abundance of globe eggplant. Talk to your Account Manager if you’re interested in volume deals. Specialty eggplant are starting to come on. The Orient Charm is available in limited supply. This variety typically has a sweeter flavor. We love the fluorescent purple outer skin!

Pepper

California green bell peppers are in good supply. Orange, yellow, and red bells are extremely tight. We should hopefully see California red bells pick up at the end of June or in early July. Jalapeños have steady but limited supply. Fresno and Anaheim peppers are steady. Serranos are now available after a gap. Sweet frying peppers continue to be steady.

Potato

New-crop russets have started. Supply is a bit limited to start; prices are high. Yukon gold potatoes have arrived. We can’t get enough of the rich, buttery flavor! There are lots of specialty potatoes available to spice up your potato offerings. 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! German Butterball is the gold standard for gold potatoes. One bite of the tender, buttery flesh and you’ll agree. Mountain Rose potatoes have a gorgeous rosy color inside and out. This variety is extra nutritious and high in antioxidants! We have lots of fingerling packs on hand including rainbow fingerlings, French fingerlings, and Russian Banana.

Squash

Zucchini is abundant; prices are sharp. Specialty summer squash is limited, but we should be seeing more supply of Sunburst, Gold Zucchini, Crookneck, and mixed medley. Hard squash from California is slowly starting to come back into availability. Acorn squash and Butternut squash are coming on this week.

Tomato

One- and two-layer tomatoes should be in better supply going forward. Tomatoes-on-vine are steady. California-grown cherry tomato season has kicked off and supply is good. Check out the plethora of beautiful colors and cherry tomato varieties including Sungold, Gold Nugget, Sweet 100, Juliette, mixed medley, heirloom medley, and more! Mixed heirlooms from Mexico are readily available. California heirlooms are more limited right now, but we’re seeing steady mixed packs and some straight packs of Purple Cherokee.

Merchandising Corner

4th of July Merchandising

The 4th of July holiday is almost here. Are you ready? It’s time to fill your produce department with watermelon bins, corn, blueberries, strawberries, and all the stone fruit summer has to offer.

Fruit is a no-brainer for the biggest holiday of the summer, but what else can you add to your department and displays to boost your sales? Desserts are always a big hit at any celebratory event. Pre-made packaged pound cakes, angel food cake, or shortcakes are great grocery item to cross-merchandise with berries and stone fruit. Don’t forget the whipped cream toppings to go with those berry-themed desserts. Find ways to work spray cans of whipped cream into your display, as well as cartons of heavy whipping cream for those who want to make their own and non-dairy options like coconut whipped cream. These items can be easily worked into your cold cases and tables or also merchandised in ice trays next to large unrefrigerated endcap displays. You’ll quickly notice that not only will your berries and stone fruit move faster once you cross-merchandise these items together, but any grocery items you pull into the department will fly too. Working together with other departments in the store to create inspiring displays doesn’t just help promote sales; it‘s also helpful for shoppers.

Aside from desserts, the 4th of July is a heavy BBQ and grilling holiday. Use the front store display for a bin of watermelon with side stacks of hotdog and hamburger buns, chips, and condiments. As soon as your customers walk into the store they are met with several staples for their holiday event. Don’t forget to include some recipes in or next to your displays. Print out an elote (Mexican street corn) recipe and place it next to your corn. Watermelon-based savory salads such as watermelon, mint, and feta are another popular festive salad type for summer gatherings. Peaches and nectarines (or any stone fruit) are perfect for cobblers. There are endless suggestions you can offer your customers on ways to use produce. Cross-merchandise whenever possible and build displays that contain the key ingredients to a simple meal or side dish.

Lastly, if you have a fresh-cut program, make sure to keep your cut melons fully stocked. Precut and wrap more than your normal amount to make sure you can keep your cut melons fully stocked at all times. Although a lot of people will be looking for whole melons, you’ll still have customers who are coming in looking for halves or quartered melons. Be creative and playful. Think about items you and your team enjoy. Work together on building beautiful food arrangements that inspire customers to shop.