Author Archives: Veritable Vegetable

I Yam What I Yam

For most of us, yams and sweet potatoes (shown above) are confusing. Are they the same? Are they different? We’re here to set the record straight: sweet potatoes are not a type of yam, and yams are not a type of sweet potato. They are both tuberous root vegetables that come from a flowering plant, but they are not related.

A yam is a starchy root of the Dioscorea genus that is native to Africa and Asia. They are cylindrical in shape and have rough brownish bark-like skin. The flesh is white, purple or reddish. Compared to sweet potatoes, yams are lower in beta carotene, starchier and drier.

The sweet potato is part of the morning glory family. There are several varieties and the flesh and skin ranges in color from white to yellow to orange to purple. They have an elongated shape with tapered ends. The varieties can be grouped together into two major types; (1) firm, which have golden skin and paler flesh or (2) soft, which have copper skin and orange flesh. The firm variety was the first to be produced in the U.S., so when “soft” sweet potatoes began to be produced commercially, there was a need to differentiate it from its firm counterpart. Since the “soft” sweet potatoes slightly resemble true yams, the name was picked up and became what you see commonly labeled as “yams” in grocery stores.

In summary, know what kind of sweet potato you want for your recipe, and be alert to the yam/sweet potato labeling concept. More importantly, don’t be afraid to examine the vegetables, look at the color of the skin and the flesh and ask questions!

 

Keep a lookout for our staff picks noted in orange.

 

Fruit

Apple and Pear

It’s a great time to be an apple-lover—lots of varieties available including some of our favorite heirlooms! Spitzenburgs have rich, fruity aromatic flavor and crisp flesh. This heirloom was discovered in upstate New York in the early 1700s. It is rumored to be Thomas Jefferson’s favorite apple as it was found growing in his orchards at Monticello. Spitzenburg is a great dessert apple and often a favorite at Christmas time. Arkansas Black have started, but supply is very limited and prices high. This heirloom variety dates back to the 1870s. It has a lively red color that deepens to purplish-black when ripe. Prices are coming down on Ashmead Kernel’s, Golden Grimes and King David. We’re expecting to see Winesap come on soon in limited amounts! Now is the time to try the heirloom varieties before they’re gone!  The Kanzi is a staff favorite. It is a cross between a tangy sweet Braeburn and a juicy Gala with attractive red and yellow coloring. Opals are here in all their juicy, crispy, delicious glory. The bright yellow skin adds a pop to any apple display. Did we mention it resists oxidation so is less likely to brown after slicing? Great pallet deals on the Gala 113 count and large Fuji apple bins! We’re your premiere apple resource this season. Check in with your Account Manager to discuss and plan for your apple needs.

We’re seeing large volume and promotable pricing on Barlett pears. Bosc is readily available—inquire about pallet deals! Comice have come on; quality is spot on. The fruit is clean with a slight blush. Pocket size Seckels are here. The small size makes these ideal for lunch boxes, garnishes, canning whole and more!

Avocado

Hass prices from Mexico continue to slide down on small fruit. 40s and larger fruit are very limited and much more expensive than 48s. Expect California grown green-skin Zutano any day now. They will run large sizes, since they will be size-picked as fruit matures on the tree.

Berry

Rain in Northern California has shutdown most strawberry supply in the region. Expect prices to be high. Chilean blueberry prices remain high but supply has been steady. Mexican blueberry season should start in December. Mexican blackberry season has started but supply is limited. We’re offering cranberry in clamshells, cello bags, and bulk packs.

Citrus

Valencia demand is strong and prices expected to remain firm. Hurricane Irma affected Florida’s citrus supply earlier this fall, impacting Mexican and California supply now. There is some California fruit available but early Mexican fruit is not expected to come on until around Thanksgiving. It’s still early in the Navel season and we can expect supply to improve. Cara Cara Navels should be here towards the end of the month. Grapefruit prices have come down. Pomelos have come on early and are available. Satsuma tangerines are very tight in supply. More growers should come on mid-month and fruit will be more readily available. Clementine and Fairchild tangerines are starting up right after Thanksgiving. Look for the highly coveted 5-pound Clementine gift boxes! We will probably not see any Minneola until mid-December.

Date

We have a wide selection of dates but our favorite has the be the Medjool date. Often considered “nature’s power fruit,” Medjool dates are packed with vitamins, minerals, and fiber. They have even been proven to decrease cholesterol and boost bone health. Dates are the edible fruit of the date palm tree. Their sweet taste makes them the perfect natural sweeteners and sugar alternative. Other dates options on our list include Almond Nugget, Coco Roll, Pecan Nugget, Walnut Roll and the popular date paste.

Grape

We’re approaching the end of the season for grapes, supply has tightened and prices are up. Black seedless has the steadiest volume but price has still increased. Green grapes are more limited and prices are quite firm. Red grapes are very limited as growers wait for the grapes to color up.

Mango

Tommy Atkins and Ataulfo mango have strong supply. The two varieties could not be more different in shape and size but both offer sweet tropical reprieve during the winter months. We like freezing cut up chunks to conveniently add to smoothies!

Melon

The Mexican melon season is ramping up. Mini seedless watermelon is steady. Plenty of specialty melons available including Cantaloupe, Crenshaw, Piel de Sapo and Orange Honeydew. Honeydew should be coming on soon to join the ranks.

Persimmon

Fuyu persimmons have good volume. Volume-fill packs are available at sharp pricing. This variety tastes great when fresh and firm. Hachiyas are steady but a bit more limited. Let this variety ripen until it’s soft and plump before enjoying! Hachiya is great for baking. Try a persimmon pie this Thanksgiving for a unique and tasty dessert.

Pomegranate

Pomegranate supply is strong and steady. 36 count size fruit is gapping in supply. Check out the pom bins for a great volume deal.

Specialty Fruit

Mark Twain once called the cherimoya “the most delicious fruit known to men.” This tropical fruit is also known as a custard apple. On the outside, it is green, scaly and sometimes heart or conical shaped. On the inside, however, the creamy white flesh tastes like a blend of banana, pineapple, papaya and peach. Some prefer to chill the fruit and eat it with a spoon, earning it the nickname, the ice cream fruit. Jujube (also known as the Chinese date) are here in limited quantities. The fruit is green when immature but ripens to brown to purplish black coloring when mature. Quince, the quirky fruit, is readily available. Completely inedible raw, quince is best for cooked dishes, and provides natural pectin for firming up home-made pie, jelly, and chutney. We love the delicate fragrance of vanilla, citrus and apple it releases when left out at room temperature. Replace your candles with a handful of quince fruit this holiday season! Currently we have good supply of white-flesh dragon fruit, at a really sharp price.

 

Nuts

Chestnuts from Heath Ranch are available in 5-pound mesh bags. They are jumbo size and gorgeous! We also have a variety of nuts, ideal for any festive occasion: several types of almond, cashew, walnut and a nut mix. Check our availability list for more information.

 

Vegetables

Artichoke

Artichokes are steady but larger size ‘chokes have tightened up a bit. Rodoni Farms artichokes have been loving the colder weather coming through California’s Santa Cruz area—it’s brings out the nutty flavor!

Bean

Green beans are readily available with strong quality. Rundle Family Farm’s crop was damaged by early frost and will likely be very limited this season. However, we’ll have steady supply from Orange County Organics so do not anticipate any gaps or shortages.

Broccoli/Cauliflower

Broccoli prices are coming down fast as desert and Mexican production has started up.  Northern California producers are trying to close down their coolers and move entirely to desert production. There is plenty of broccoli available at sharp prices as we head into Thanksgiving. The cauliflower market is also sliding. Prices have dropped and supply is strong.

Brussels Sprout

We’ve got your Brussels needs covered this season. Supply is plentiful and quality high—we’re seeing bright, clean sprouts with no aphids. Keep this popular veggie stocked through Thanksgiving and Christmas! Consider adding to your promotions between holidays to keep sales steady.

Carrot

Juice carrot supply remains tight. Rainbow bulk carrots are steady. Bunched carrots are in good supply. Jumbo carrots are gapping.

Celery

Although it was looking like a tight celery market going into Thanksgiving, conditions have fully come around. With so much celery out there, we are confident that we have some of the best quality and one of the best prices available in the Bay Area.

Cucumber

Persian cucumbers are limited. We’re seeing small amounts of Persian clamshells available. Slicer cucumbers have better availability from Fair Trade certified producer, Rico Farms in Mexico. English Hothouse prices are coming down.

Garlic and Ginger

Few holiday dishes don’t benefit from a little garlic. Expect shopper demand to increase in the coming weeks. Fortunately, garlic has good volume and should be steady. Turmeric from our Hawaiian grower, Kolo Kai has arrived! Supply should be steady through January. Turmeric has high anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. As health continues to be a trend among consumers this year and into next, make sure your turmeric is always stocked!

Greens, Lettuce & Herbs

Our greens suppliers are currently transitioning their fields from the coastal and Salinas Valley regions to the desert regions of California and Arizona. Historically, the transition period has brought some challenges in availability and quality. However, our diverse mix of suppliers should keep us in good supply through the transition. Bunched kale and chards are readily available; quality is high. Lots of collards out there. Romaine lettuce is in tight supply and prices are up. Several of our local California growers are waiting for their lettuce to size up. Just in—holiday mix herbs in bunches and clamshells! The holiday herb mix is a warm, woodsy combination of rosemary, sage, savory, and thyme. These are the go-to herbs traditionally used during the winter holidays for roasted meats, dressing & stuffing, and side dishes.

Mushroom

‘Tis the season for mushrooms! Our list includes your classic ‘shrooms: Crimini, Portabella, White, Shiitake, Beech and Oyster as well as specialty wild varieties like Maitake, Matsutake, Porcini,Trumpet and Black Trumpet. These varieties are limited so talk to your Account Manager early! We also have Chanterelles and Lion’s Mane which are preorder only. Be sure to get your order in at least 2 days before need the items. It’s no surprise if you have not heard of Lion’s Mane. They are not your classic looking cap and stem variety. These globular shaped mushrooms have cascading teeth-like spines. From these spines, white spores emerge. They resemble the white pom-pom used by cheerleaders. The mushroom is 20% protein and can sometimes taste like lobster or shrimp! Many wait all year for it (we certainly do!)—truffles are in season. White, Winter Black and Burgundy truffles are available by the ounce.

Onions

With the holidays upon us, it goes without saying that onions are on everyone’s shopping list. From white to yellow to red, sweet to sweeter, we have you covered. Volume is strong—talk to your Account Manager about prebuilt pallet deals—mix and match onion varieties! Plenty of shallot on hand. Red and yellow Cipollini are readily available. Pearl onions are likely going to be unavailable this season, however gold boilers make a great substitute for those looking onions in a small size.

Pea

Snap peas are extremely tight right now. California growers are gapping in supply due to quality issues and Mexico growers is just starting up.

Pepper

Red and green bell peppers are readily available. Orange and yellow bell peppers are very limited as Mexico supply is not quite ready yet. Jalapenos are becoming more available—expect prices to come down. Poblano, Serrano and Anaheim peppers all have some limited availability. Sweet peppers are still hard to come by.

Potato

In potato-land, conditions are favorable. We have lots of variety, supply is strong and prices are low. Russet potatoes are steady and have dropped in price. Pallet deals are available on yellow potatoes. If you haven’t shopped our specialty potatoes selection yet, now is the time! We have fingerlings in every color—perfect for roasting! Creamy Huckleberry Gold, vibrant purple potatoes round out the collection.

Squash

Zucchini prices trended down as a result of more Mexican product coming on the market. Specialty soft squash from California growers is winding down for the season. We have lots of hard squash on hand for your holiday needs! Butternut is readily available in multiple sizes. Carnival squash is winding down. New to the squash family is the Goldetti, an orange spaghetti with beautiful color and sharp pricing! Did you know we sell mixed and straight bins of hard squash? Mix bins may contain Acorn, Butternut, Delicata, Kabocha, Spaghetti, or Sugar Pie Pumpkin. Custom mixes are available upon request. All bins are preorder only so don’t wait!

Sweet Potato

Everyone needs sweet potatoes for the holidays. This is a great time to introduce customers to varieties that they may not be familiar with. We are offering Garnets, Hannah Sweet, Japanese Sweet, Jewel and Purple Stokes at competitive prices and large volume. Cut some up on your tasting table to show each varieties’ colorful flesh. Samples and recipes are also helpful. Did you know we offer prebuilt pallets of any combination of these five varieties? Talk to your Account Manager for holiday planning and volume deals.

Tomato

Heirlooms are done for the season. Roma tomatoes are a little tight. Cherry tomatoes have limited availability. It’s the time in the season when California growers are finishing up and Mexico comes on some blips in supply are expected. One and two-layer slicer are in good supply.

 

Dried Fruit

No holiday is complete with dried fruit! We have delicious dried jujube, dried persimmon from Biodynamic producer Beck Grove, and dried pitted prunes. Let’s not forget about the sweet, delicious Biodynamic Thompson raisins from Marian Farms. The raisins are lightly sprayed with certified organic safflower oil to prevent clumping and makes for easy pouring and scooping.

 

Grocery and Dairy

Did you know that Straus Family Creamery offers eggnog through the holiday season? If you haven’t tried their old fashion eggnog you’re missing out. This delicious beverage is only available for the holiday season. It never disappoints, as a matter of fact, their eggnog is rather addictive!

 

Floral

All fresh flowers from Full Belly Farm and straight packs from Thomas Farm are officially done for the season. Thomas Farm will continue to offer seasonal mixed bouquets. However, with the change of the seasons, we’re excited to reintroduce dried bouquets and dried wreaths from Full Belly Farm. Dried wreaths are sold individually—each one is unique and different! Dried bouquets are sold in 6 counts. Dried floral arrangements are great centerpieces and gifts for the holidays.

 

Merchandising Corner

Thanksgiving Displays

Now that the holidays are fast approaching, it is time to start thinking about your holiday displays. Items like Garnet sweet potatoes, yellow onions, Russet potatoes and Butternut squash are all items that you can start stocking up on now and increasing their display size. Not only will this encourage more sales by providing the larger displays but you can also start to claim your holiday space and begin to plan for the week before the Thanksgiving shopping surge. The five days right before the big holiday is the time you really want to expand your displays on all heavily in demand Thanksgiving items. During this small window of time your department will sell anywhere from 10 to 50 times the normal amount on items like: celery, parsley, brussels sprouts, thyme, rosemary, cranberries, chestnuts, Pink Lady and Granny Smith apples, Garnet sweet potatoes, Russets, Yukons, carrots, yellow onions, Butternut and other winter hard squash. A department that does around $40,000 a week might want to consider bringing in a half pallet of Garnets and building a big impressive display to promote sales and do the same with yellow onions. If your weekly department sales are more around $60,000, you could easily move a full pallet of those two products.

Since the few days before Thanksgiving is such a hectic time, think about some short cuts you can make that will save you and your staff time. For instance, don’t spend time prepping your celery. Products like this will be moving so fast that you will be not only saving time but you’ll be able to keep the product stocked out on the floor more consistently. You might consider the same thing with your parsley and any bunched greens you may be stocking during those few days. Any time you can save yourself in the backroom is more time you and your staff can spend out on the floor providing customer service and making sure the department looks good. Keeping the department full and having staff to help customers will make a huge difference in your sales volume.

If you are lucky enough to work in a store with a deli, chances are they will be running a holiday menu. It is a good idea to get some of the recipes for popular side dishes and desserts printed out and placed around the produce department.  Customers are always looking for great new ways to prepare their favorite produce items. If you don’t have a deli to partner with you can always look up some recipes on line yourself like roasted brussels sprouts with bacon, stuffed acorn squash, wild rice with cranberries and chestnuts or even the traditional standard sweet potatoes with marshmallows. There are always people who appreciate recipes and will gladly use them. Now get out there and take on the holiday!

 

 

 

 

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Your Holiday Guide to Sweet Potatoes

The holidays are fast approaching and it’s the sweet potato’s time to shine. With so many varieties out there, how do you choose? From orange to purple, sweet to mild, we have you covered. Here’s your cheat sheet to the season’s most popular varieties.

Garnet Sweet Potato

Garnets have dusty brown-maroon-colored skin, which happens to be the inspiration behind their name. inside, the flesh is a brilliant golden orange. it is starchier and moister than other varieties and offers mild sweet flavor with savory earthiness.

 

Hannah Sweet Potato

Hannah Sweets are cream-colored with fairly smooth skin.  Inside, the flesh is a cream-white that becomes more yellow when cooked. It offers a lightly sweet flavor with dry texture that is great mashed.

 

Japanese Sweet Potato

Japanese sweet potatoes have reddish-purple skin with whitish flesh that turns golden when cooked. Their shape is more round than cylindrical. The flavor is very sweet and the texture is fairly firm.

 

Jewel Sweet Potato

Jewels have copper-colored skin and deep orange flesh. When cooked, this sweet potato takes on a moist, fluffy texture and offers mildly sweet taste with subtle earthiness.

 

Purple Stoke Sweet Potato

Purple Stokes have a vibrant deep purple skin and purple flesh inside. Dryer, denser and richer in texture than other varieties, they offer a balanced sweetness with floral notes.

 

Interested in stocking up for the holiday rush? Talk to you Account Manager about ordering mixed prebuilt pallets of sweet potato. Mix and match different varieties for your ideal pallet. This is a great way to ensure you have enough supply for the Thanksgiving rush and to take advantage of volume discounts! Prebuilt pallets require preorder so get yours in!

 

Shake Your Pom-Pom

Many wait all year for pomegranates, often referred to as poms, to come in season. Although it’s tricky to get to the actual seeds, the delicious flavor and many health benefits, make this super food well worth the effort.

Pomegranates originated in the region from modern-day Iran to northern India. There is mention of the fruit dating back to the early Bronze Age. It was introduced into Spanish America in the late 16th century and into California by Spanish settlers in 1769. Today, it’s widely cultivated on most continents and a symbolic fruit in many cultures.

Pomegranates grow on shrubs or small trees with flowers. The skin can vary from pink to deep red. Inside the fruit are hundreds of edible seeds covered in pulp that ranges in color from white to deep red. Did you know pomegranates can contain anywhere from 200 to 1400 seeds? The seeds, which can be compressed to make pom juice, contains high levels of antioxidants and fiber. Generally, sweeter than tart, poms lend amazing flavor to any number of dishes—salads, drinks, desserts, sauces, and more!

 

Keep a lookout for our staff picks noted in orange.

 

Fruit

Apple and Pear

Lots to report from the wonderful world of apples. Arkansas Black have come on. This heirloom variety dates back to the 1870s. It has a lively red color that deepens to purplish-black when ripe. Juicy texture and aromatic flavor make this variety a favorite every season. Caville Blanc is a world-renowned dessert apple dating back to 16th century France. It has a distinctive flattened round shape and tart, effervescent flavor. Some believe Cavilles to be the “best apple pie apple grown.” Mutsu (aka Crispin) ranges in color from green to yellow with orange blush. It’s crisp, pale yellow flesh is aromatic, juicy and sweeter than tart. However, it is tarter than either of its Golden Delicious or Indo parents. These are great all-purpose apples! Kanzi apples are an attractive addition to displays with their beautiful red and yellow skin. It is a cross between a tangy sweet Braeburn and a juicy Gala. Talk to your Account Manager about your apple needs—we have something for everyone including cost effective bins!

The pear season is well under way and we have many varieties to choose from. Bartletts have great promotable pricing. Plenty of Bosc, Comice, Seckel and Starkrimson on hand.

Berry

Strawberry prices are up slightly but supply is steady. Blueberries are limited and expensive. We may see import raspberries from Mexico starting to come on in the first half of November. Cranberries are readily available—it’s time to start planning for the Thanksgiving holiday rush. Ask about our bulk pack!

Citrus

Navel oranges are starting to come on. Supply is limited to start but will improve as more growers ramp up. We may see some import Valencias from Mexico early this month. Rio Red grapefruit is in good supply and prices are coming down. Ruby grapefruit have started! Satsuma tangerines have started but supply is limited as growers are waiting for more fruit to color up. Limes are plentiful. Finger limes are available for pre-order. Meyer lemons are somewhat limited but steady.

Kiwi

Kiwi supply is strong—plenty of bins to keep you going through the holidays. Adorable kiwiberries are still readily available as well.

Persimmon

All hail the persimmon! The market is strong and prices are coming down. Fuyus are from biodynamic grower, Beck Grove, located in Southern California. This variety is great for eating fresh, when the fruit is firm and crisp. Add to salads, pizzas, cheese plates and more! Hachiyas need time to ripen but when they do—the creamy sweet texture is well worth it! We love this variety for baking.

Pomegranate

Pomegranate supply is strong and steady. We have lots on hand. Check out the bins for a great volume deal. Don’t forget about arils! These are packed in clamshells for fast, easy, no-mess use!

Specialty Fruit

Quince, the quirky fruit is readily available. Completely inedible raw, quince is best for cooked dishes. We love the delicate fragrance of vanilla, citrus and apple it releases when left out at room temperature. Guava is in good supply. The sweet flavor and high levels of pectin in guava makes it perfect for preserves, jellies, jams as well as juices and agua frescas. Sapote (aka Mexican apple) and jujube (Chinese date) are also available.

 

Vegetables

Asparagus

Supply from Mexico appears to be improving. Prices are sharp and promotable.

Bean

Green beans are readily available with strong quality. We’re also seeing a full range specialty beans such as Yellow or Chinese Noodle.

Broccoli/Cauliflower

Broccoli prices have been fluctuating due to changing harvest projections. Overall supply in November should be steady but prices may be on the higher side as we near Thanksgiving. The cauliflower market is still volatile due to quality issues. We don’t anticipate any gaps in supply but prices are not yet settled.

Brussels Sprout

Plenty of brussels sprouts on hand for the holiday season. Check out the popular retail pouches and brussels sprouts stalks!

Carrot

The carrot market has picked up a bit but prices are still high. Rainbow carrots from Cal-Organic are back in supply; juice carrots are still very limited.

Celery

Celery has been in good supply and prices have been steady. The market should be relatively stable through Thanksgiving.

Cucumber

Persian cucumbers are very limited and prices are high. English cucumbers are steady in supply but prices have inched up slightly. California grown slicer cucumbers are done for the season. Supply is coming in steadily from Mexico.

Greens, Lettuce & Herbs

Availability of specific labels for boxed greens may be hit or miss as growers transition to the desert, but supply is expected to be uninterrupted. Fall production for bunched greens is in full swing. Chard prices have fallen. Little Gem lettuce is readily available while iceberg supply is very limited. Red leaf and Romaine are steady. Holiday mixed herbs are starting and replacing regular mixed herbs during the holiday season.

Onions

Yellow onion supply is strong as we head into the holidays. Medium red onions have promotable pricing. Red cippolinis are flowing in steadily; yellow cippolinis should be following suit.

Pepper

Red bell peppers have limited supply and will likely gap on choice grade product. We’re still seeing some supply of California orange and yellow bells but Mexico product should be ramping up soon. Green bells are still in good supply from local California growers. Jalapenos continue to be tight and expensive. Supply from Mexico is expected to come on soon and should improve availability.

Potato

Specialty and fingerling potatoes are in abundance right now. French, Russian Banana, Austrian Crescent, Amarosa, mixed medleys and more!  We love the has bright red skin and vibrant pink-red flesh of the delicious Amarosa potato. The Huckbleberry Gold is a Thanksgiving must-have. This potato is purple on the outside and golden colored inside. It’s creamy, buttery texture and delicious flavor has earned it a cult following. Purple ‘A’ potatoes offer earthy and nutty flavor in addition to a heaping dose of antioxidants.

Roots

After a challenging start to the season, roots are finally in good supply with a large mix of varieties. We’re seeing all types of radish, daikon, turnips and more. Our current favorite is the rutabaga— are a cross between a cabbage and a turnip. Pureed, mashed, roasted, this root is a versatile as any potato (but healthier!) Don’t forget to stock up on horseradish—a popular holiday dinner staple. Let us know if you’re looking for a root not on our list!

Squash

Warm weather is keeping California zucchini supply going strong. Prices on Mexican product has dropped; California prices will likely come down as well. Straightneck squash is plentiful with sharp pricing. Lots of hard squash varieties on hand. Prices are starting to drop going into November. Time to plan ahead for the inevitable holiday rush—we have prebuilt pallets and mixed squash bins available. Stock up now to ensure you have enough supply for holidays!

Sweet Potato

‘Tis the season for sweet potatoes! Supply is steady Garnets, Hannah Sweet, Japanese Sweet, Jewel and Purple Stokes. Did you know we offer prebuilt pallets of any combination of these five varieties? Talk to your Account Manager for holiday planning and volume deals.

Tomato

Roma supply has picked up and should continue to be strong. Warm weather has extended California cherry tomato season but growers should be winding down soon. California heirlooms are in the last stretch for the season. There may be a gap in supply if California finishes up before Mexico heirloom growers come on in mid-December. Early girls are just about done for the season. We may see a few here and there, if we’re lucky!

 

Grocery and Dairy

Did you know we sell maple products? We are currently offering a full line of delicious maple products including maple syrup in various size packs, maple sugar candy, and even whipped maple cream (great on toast, pancakes, yogurt and more!) All products are certified organic and great to have as we head into fall. The products are sourced from Maple Valley Co-op, a producer co-op modeled after famed Organic Valley.

 

Floral

All fresh flowers from Full Belly Farm and straight packs from Thomas Farm are officially done for the season. Thomas Farm will continue to offer seasonal mixed bouquets. However, with the change of the seasons, we’re excited to reintroduce dried bouquets and dried wreaths from Full Belly Farm. Dried wreaths are sold individually—each one is unique and different! Dried bouquets are sold in 6 counts. Dried floral arrangements are great centerpieces and gifts for the holidays.

 

Merchandising Corner

Thanksgiving Displays

Now that the holidays are fast approaching, it is time to start thinking about your holiday displays. Items like Garnet sweet potatoes, yellow onions, Russet potatoes and Butternut squash are all items that you can start stocking up on now and increasing their display size. Not only will this encourage more sales by providing the larger displays but you can also start to claim your holiday space and begin to plan for the week before the Thanksgiving shopping surge. The five days right before the big holiday is the time you really want to expand your displays on all heavily in demand Thanksgiving items. During this small window of time your department will sell anywhere from 10 to 50 times the normal amount on items like: celery, parsley, brussels sprouts, thyme, rosemary, cranberries, chestnuts, Pink Lady and Granny Smith apples, Garnet sweet potatoes, Russets, Yukons, carrots, yellow onions, Butternut and other winter hard squash. A department that does around $40,000 a week might want to consider bringing in a half pallet of Garnets and building a big impressive display to promote sales and do the same with yellow onions. If your weekly department sales are more around $60,000, you could easily move a full pallet of those two products.

Since the few days before Thanksgiving is such a hectic time, think about some short cuts you can make that will save you and your staff time. For instance, don’t spend time prepping your celery. Products like this will be moving so fast that you will be not only saving time but you’ll be able to keep the product stocked out on the floor more consistently. You might consider the same thing with your parsley and any bunched greens you may be stocking during those few days. Any time you can save yourself in the backroom is more time you and your staff can spend out on the floor providing customer service and making sure the department looks good. Keeping the department full and having staff to help customers will make a huge difference in your sales volume.

If you are lucky enough to work in a store with a deli, chances are they will be running a holiday menu. It is a good idea to get some of the recipes for popular side dishes and desserts printed out and placed around the produce department.  Customers are always looking for great new ways to prepare their favorite produce items. If you don’t have a deli to partner with you can always look up some recipes on line yourself like roasted brussels sprouts with bacon, stuffed acorn squash, wild rice with cranberries and chestnuts or even the traditional standard sweet potatoes with marshmallows. There are always people who appreciate recipes and will gladly use them. Now get out there and take on the holiday!

 

 

 

 

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All Hail the Persimmon

Persimmons

With the arrival of fall, comes the arrival of many new fruits including a less common favorite: persimmon. In Latin, persimmon means “food for the gods.”  Persimmons originated in Japan and made its way to the U.S. in 1856 where it’s been gaining popularity ever since. In general, there are two types of persimmon fruit: astringent and non-astringent.

Hachiya persimmons are the most common astringent variety. They are round and slightly elongated and acorn shape. This variety will turn a beautiful deep orange when it ripens and should feel soft and full. Astringent persimmons have high levels of tannins and are unpalatable if eaten before completely ripened. Hachiyas are creamy in texture and very sweet with hints of spice. These qualities make this an obvious choice for baking.

Fuyu persimmons are the most common non-astringent persimmons. These are short and squat and resemble an orange tomato.  Because of their low levels of tannins, they can be eaten when firm and crisp. Fuyus have the subtle taste of cinnamon and are great for eating raw (peeled) or adding to salads, pizza, cocktails and more. No matter which variety you try, persimmons offer tons of nutrients, vitamins and flavor!

 

Keep a lookout for our staff picks noted in orange.

 

Fruit

Apple and Pear

In the wonderful world of apples, there are many delicious varieties in season. On the heirloom front, Ashmead’s Kernel have come on. This variety originates from the 1700s in England and is characterized by green skin with brown russet and unique pear-like flavor. We’re seeing strong supply and promotable pricing on Gala, Honeycrisp and Red Delicious. Braeburn and Cameo are also readily available. Washington grown Granny Smith are on their way—just in time for caramel apples and pies! Ambrosia, Crimson Gold and Kanzi are coming on in a couple weeks.

The pear market is ripe with delicious, quality fruit. Lots of variety to choose from! Bartlett and Bosc have strong supply. Comice are experiencing a small gap but more supply is coming soon. We thought the season had ended for Seckel but fortunately, the season is continuing just a bit longer. Starkrimson have great color and flavor but are limited to larger sizes only. We’re in good supply on Kosui and 20th Century Asian pears. Hosui is coming on soon—a excellent variety known for great flavor. Yoinashi brings a touch of butterscotch flavor while the Shinseiki offers juicy, crisp flavor with hints of spice.

Berry

Strawberry supply is pretty strong but prices are up slightly. Blackberries are still limited. Raspberry import season is expected to begin mid-November. Blueberries are still gapping in supply but expected to start any day now. Cranberry supply will be steady until it runs out. Overall, the crop is projected to be light again this year. Because cranberry dried fruit and juice markets are strong; prices are expected to stay firm.

Citrus

Navel oranges are slowly coming on; prices are starting high. Look for more supply soon!  Valencias are finishing up for the season. Lemons and limes are steady. Meyer lemons supply should start to pick up with some regularity. Prices are expected to come down. It’s still early in the season but we’re starting to see some Satsuma tangerines. Supply is very limited. The grapefruit market is tight with very little fruit available. The Rio Reds we’re able to get our hands on is limited and expensive but has good color.

Fig

Fig supply is winding down fast. High winds and colder weather are slowing down production from our main grower Maywood Farms, located in Corning, California. We’re expecting a couple more shipments of Black Mission figs before they’re done for the season.

Grape

Grape prices are on the rise on all varieties as supply becomes less available. Thomcords are winding down for the season. However, Autumn Royals are plentiful and should be steady for the next few weeks. This sweet black seedless grape has beautiful black-purple skin with translucent yellow green flesh. Firm, plump and ideal for snacking, desserts or savory dishes.

Mango

Tommy Atkins and Ataulfo mangoes from Ecuador are delayed until early November. Plenty of California grown Keitts to cover mango needs in the meantime! Keitts have greenish skin with an occasional yellow blush that remains the same even as the mango ripens. To determine whether your Keitt is ripe or not, touch the skin gently—it should generously give way to touch. Flavorwise—Keitt have a tangy sweet flavor with smooth fiber-free texture.

Melon

Mini seedless watermelon supply is nice and steady. We’re seeing sharp pricing on seeded bins—talk to your Account Manager if interested in preordering. Cantaloupes are done for the season and Canary melons are winding down.

Persimmon

Fuyu persimmons are becoming more plentiful but demand is high! We’re bringing in everything we can. Hachiyas are more limited but should be picking up soon.

Pineapple

After what feels like a very long period of tight pineapple supply, the market has improved. Pineapple is abundant and prices are falling.

Pomegranate

The pomegranate market has picked up and there is lots of fruit available. Check out the bins for a great volume deal. Clamshell packed arils are starting up—convenient and easy for delis and food service!

Specialty Fruit

Passion fruit is finishing up so expect limited supply until the season is done. Jujube is available in small amounts. Quince is a bit more plentiful than its specialty fruit counterparts. Guava is readily available and tasting delicious!’ Dragon fruit supply has tightened up and coming in as its available. Prices are up as a result.

 

Vegetables

Broccoli/Cauliflower

Broccoli is steady but given the high demand, prices are expected remain on the high side. Crowns are in better supply. The cauliflower market also appears to be pretty steady. Prices have dipped slightly.

Brussels Sprout

Brussels sprouts are plentiful and supply should improve as we inch closer to the holidays. Quality is strong with clean aphid-free sprouts.

Carrot

The carrot market has been tight due to Cal-Organic supply being limited and is expected to remain that way for the next few weeks. Our main grower for bagged rainbow carrots is done for the year, however we’ve sourced some alternate rainbow carrots with orange, yellow and white carrots (no purple!) Bunched carrots are faring better—lots on hand!

Celery

Celery is readily available but market pricing is scattered and prices are expected to trend up.

Cucumber

We’re seeing the last of California grown slicer cucumbers before we transition fully to Mexico grown product. From Mexico, we’re seeing beautiful, high quality Fair Trade certified slicer ‘cukes from Rico Farms. English Hothouse cucumbers are limited but should improve in the next couple weeks when Mexico growers are up and running. Persians are starting to come on but won’t be readily available for another two weeks.

Eggplant

It’s the time in the season when most dry vegetables transition from domestic grown to Mexico grown. Globe eggplant is currently in that transition so supply is very limited.

Greens, Lettuce & Herbs

Boxed greens have been relatively stable for this time of year. The growing region transition is just around the corner so we anticipate supply fluctuations coming soon. Bunched greens are also pretty steady in supply for chards and kales. Pricing remains stable. Lettuce production has been a little lighter, which is not uncommon for the season. Basil and oregano are in better supply. Tarragon is still gapping supply.

Pea

The pea market has been very tight as California snap pea and snow pears are winding down. Mexico peas are just starting up so the market should show some improvement. English peas are unavailable.

Pepper

Peppers will also transition from domestic growers to Mexico growers over the next couple weeks. California grown green bell peppers are plentiful so should continue steadily. California grown orange, yellow and red bell pepper are winding down. California grown chili peppers are in good supply but may change abruptly as cooler nights and potential frost are on the horizon. Mexico growers are starting on many chili pepper varieties. Sweet peppers are very limited.

Potato

Russet potatoes have strong availability and sharp pricing. Red and yellow potatoes are steady. We’re seeing some beautiful specialty potatoes right now. Looking for fingerlings? We have Russian Banana, French, Ruby Crescent, and mixed medleys. Our current favorite is the Amarosa variety. We have yet to meet a prettier potato. This fingerling variety has bright red skin and vibrant pink-red flesh. Not only is this potato chock full of antioxidants, but its sweet and creamy flavor is simply delicious. The wine-colored flesh does not fade during cooking—perfect for adding a pop of color to fall dishes. However, we can’t overlook the Huckbleberry Gold. This potato is purple on the outside and golden colored inside. It’s creamy, buttery texture and delicious flavor has earned it a cult following.

Roots

Beets are in abundance on all colors and sizes. Lots to choose from here! Purple-Top turnip supply is unstable due to quality issues relating to heat or pests reported from several key growers. Daikon is steady in all colors: Purple, White and Watermelon. Check out a new daikon variety from Riverdog Farm: Sweet Korean. We love the crisp texture and sweet peppery taste! Jicama has good volume and have been looking and tasting great!

Squash

Zucchini supply has improved—lots of California product available with great pricing. Ask about our pallet deals! Specialty squash has good volume on the mixed medley as well as straight packs of Patti Pan, Sunburst, and Scallopini. Prices are coming down. The hard squash market is steady and abundant on most varieties including Acorn, Butternut, Delicata, Kabocha and Spaghetti. Our favorite this week is the Butterkin—a cross between a pumpkin and a Butternut squash. It has the shape of a small flattened pumpkin but with the tan color of a Butternut. Inside, the flesh is a deep bright orange color with large seeds. Sweet and smooth, this squash is a fall favorite. Start thinking about hard squash bins for your holiday rush. Both mixed and straight packs available at sharp pricing. It’s not too late to stock up on pumpkins for Halloween. We’re offering Jack O’ Lanterns by the bin and Sugar Pie pumpkins by the carton. Don’t miss out on spooktacular deals—talk to your Account Manager about how you can get ahead by ordering pallets and bins.

Tomato

Tomato supply is starting to transition to Mexico growers. Domestic one and two-layer tomatoes are winding down. Mexico grown slicers are in good supply so there should be no gap. Romas are also transitioning to Mexico growers and should be steady going forward. Cherry tomatoes have stronger California supply so should continue although production is slowing. As the weather cools, heirloom production has also slowed. Prices are rising as supply tightens.

 

Nuts

One of our main chestnut growers reported entire crop failure due to blight. While we are also sourcing from other growers, we expect this to impact overall supply and pricing for the season. Our chestnuts are available in jumbo and large sizes. Their mild and sweet texture make them perfect for both sweet and savory dishes. Keep this popular item stocked during the fall and winter months!

 

Grocery and Dairy

Did you know we sell maple products? We are currently offering a full line of delicious maple products including maple syrup in various size packs, maple sugar candy, and even whipped maple cream (great on toast, pancakes, yogurt and more!) All products are certified organic and great to have as we head into fall. The products are sourced from Maple Valley Co-op, a producer co-op modeled after famed Organic Valley.

 

Floral

All fresh flowers from Full Belly Farm and straight packs from Thomas Farm are officially done for the season. Thomas Farm will continue to offer seasonal mixed bouquets. However, with the change of the seasons, we’re excited to reintroduce dried bouquets and dried wreaths from Full Belly Farm. Dried wreaths are sold individually—each one is unique and different! Dried bouquets are sold in 6 counts. Dried floral arrangements are great centerpieces and gifts for the holidays.

 

 

Merchandising Corner

Welcoming Back Roots

Fall not only brings us many varieties of new crop apples and hard squash, it also brings back some of our other favorites like hearty root vegetables. Seasonal favorites like celery root, rutabaga, parsnips and sunchokes arrive just in time for the cooler weather and are perfect for roasting and adding to soups. Keep in mind that many consumers may not be familiar with root vegetables so education is an important piece of effective sales and merchandising. Arm your staff with nutritional information, recipes as well as storage tips. As always, grower highlights are useful and can often sway a customer into selecting an item.

When bringing in these seasonal products remember they should be stored in a refrigerated section in an area that is misted or sprayed. Keeping roots damp and away from heavy airflow will prolong their shelf life. If you find that some of the roots have gotten soft or slightly shriveled, a little trim and a soak in lukewarm water will perk them right up. Checking roots daily for freshness and firmness as well as rehydrating will keep them in peak condition for sales.

 

 

 

Account Manager/Sales Position

Veritable Vegetable is seeking a full-time Account Manager to develop and maintain strong relationships with existing customers and to contribute to Sales Department goals.

Primary Job Responsibilities:

  • Meet goals established for assigned customer accounts: volume, margin, credits, etc.
  • Interact with customers to demonstrate products, explain product features, handle all transactions including sales orders, invoices, credits, etc.
  • Recommend products to customers, based on customers’ needs and interests
  • Answer customers’ questions about products, prices, availability, product uses
  • Quote standard prices; identify and get approval from Sales Manager for pricing strategies for individual accounts
  • Provide ongoing account support: understand customer needs, direct resources as needed, resolve account problems
  • Provide customers with product samples
  • Monitor sales activity (sales goal, volume, trends, history for each account), analyze activity and prepare reports for Sales Manager
  • Conduct in-store visits to provide face-to-face time and visual assessment of store
  • Monitor market conditions, and competitors’ products, prices, and sales

Requirements:

  • 2 years of experience in sales or customer service
  • Produce industry experience required; retail produce experience a plus
  • Knowledge of produce varieties and seasonality
  • Appreciation for the principles of sustainable agriculture and the value of organic produce
  • Comfortable with office applications: Word, Excel, Outlook
  • Must have a valid driver’s license and be an insurable driver