Author Archives: Veritable Vegetable

Melon Mania

What is summer without sweet, fragrant melons on a hot day? At the peak of their season, melons are available in all shapes, sizes, and colors! Aside from the familiar watermelon, cantaloupe, and honeydew, there are delicious specialty varieties available. Look for Ambrosia, Canary, Galia, Goddess, Piel de Sapo, Sensation, Sharlyn, and more!

The melon (Cucumis melo) can refer to either the plant or fruit from the gourd family (Cucurbitaceae). Yes, melons are related to cucumbers, gourds, squashes, and pumpkins! The melon plant is native to central Asia, but its many cultivated varieties are grown in warm regions around the world.

Then comes the age-old question: how do you choose a good melon? In general, melons will not change significantly once they’re harvested from the vine. They are considered non-climacteric fruits. This means knocking on them really doesn’t help much! Rather, visual clues on the melon itself will tell you a good from a bad one. Soft rinds, brownish colors, or excessive spotting or scarring can all indicate bad fruit. A good watermelon will have a firm and shiny rind and feel heavy for its size. It will also have large deep gold or yellow spot on the outside rind, where the melon rested on the ground. During the growing process, these spots start out white and gradually change color as the sugar content increases. For cantaloupes, look for a green indentation towards the top or bottom of the melon—the stem end where it fell off the vine. Other clues? The best cantaloupe and honeydew will have a nice aroma you can smell without cutting it open.

Keep a lookout for our staff picks noted in orange.

 

Fruit

Apple and Pear

Braeburn supply is winding down. Cripps Pink are still available. Fuji are more limited than before. California Gala has come on. However, the recent heat has delayed early starts from some growers. We’re seeing sharp pricing on smaller size Granny Smith fruit and bags. Typically, the California Gravenstein season would have started by now but this year is proving to be unusual. Our local grower, Solana Gold is starting up this weekend. Early reports indicate the apples are smaller this year. Hopefully we will see some larges sizes soon. California Gravenstein are expected to last between 3-4 weeks.

California Bartlett has started. They are from the Sacramento Delta growing region. In mid-August, they will transition into the Lake County area. Asian Hosui pear will arrive soon.. We love the crisp, juicy flavor of this early-season variety.

Avocado

Hass prices are going up again as California fruit runs out, and Mexico is getting tight on supply as well. Supply should continue until October.

Berry

Northwest blueberry production has been affected by a heat wave last week. Supply will return next week but prices are up on blueberries. Blackberry availability is back with good numbers. Local raspberry supply is limited. Strawberry supply is steady but prices have increased. At this time in the season, strawberry crops often ripen faster, which may result in smaller berries at harvest. The flavor is still just as sweet and delicious, though!

Citrus

Lime supply is tightening up slightly. Prices are ticking up. Meyer lemon is done for now; we may see some occasional small shots of fruit. Mexican lemons should be available again next week. It’s unclear how long this supply will last; prices remain high. Valencia orange prices continue to creep up with tightening supply. We should  see Valencia fruit through September, possibly longer. Peruvian Satsuma has good availability and is competitively priced. Get your tangerine fix now: California citrus season is still months away!

Grape

The market is flush with supply. Growers are starting to have other varieties of red and green seedless such as Krissy, Red Rosa and Magenta red and Timcot green. Flame is still readily available, and very competitively priced. Green Thompson and Ivory have arrived. Muscat and Champagne have started with limited supply. Summer Royal and Black Emerald black seedless varieties are going strong and  full of juicy sweet flavor. Bronx and Concord are still three weeks off. Thomcord and Valley Pearl, two other specialty varieties are coming soon. Prices are expected to be high on the Bronx this year

Mango

Kent mango is available in steady supply. We love the sweet and rich flavor with juicy, tender flesh and limited fibers. After a brief delay, fair trade Kent are now available. We should start to see some untreated Mexican mango in about a week. Unlike most other imported mangoes, these mangoes do not require chemical or hot water treatment—a requirement that disrupts the ripening and compromises the integrity (and taste) of the fruit.

Melon

Mini seedless watermelon is in good supply. Lots of bins available! Cantaloupe has strong volume. Honeydew and Galia are both steady. Piel de Sapo is back in supply. Ambrosia, Canary, Orange Honeydew, Muskmelon, Sensation, and Sharlyn are readily available.

Specialty Fruit

Magenta fleshed Dragon fruit has started! Select fruit is smaller than premium fruit and does not differ in quality, grade, or appearance other than size. Full of antioxidants, dragon fruit is a superfood! The amazing Gold Line white peach from Naylor Organics has a thin gold line running vertically through each piece of fruit. They will be available for a few more weeks. As well as being a great conversation starter, they are juicy and delicate like most white peach. Sadly the Spice Zee nectoplum from Ferrari Farms is done for the season.

Stone fruit

A big heat wave in Washington and Oregon has accelerated the peach season in the Pacific Northwest. This sudden increase in availability may impact the local California market. Our star peach growers Masamoto and Naylor are almost wrapping it up for the season, but still have fruit on the tree, but not for long. Rival apricot will be wrapping up soon, but look for other varieties of regular orange apricots coming soon such as the Gold Rich. One of our staff favorites, the white apricot from Harmony Orchards in Washington are done harvesting for this year.  White nectarine is readily available, although consistently high temperatures have slowed harvesting down. Red Head yellow nectarine are finally in the house—also delayed due to heat. Grown by Ferarri Farms, this sweet, meaty nectarine has heavy streaking of red in the flesh.  Plenty of white peach varieties are coming down the pipeline. Yellow peach production is still limited (mostly due to the heat wave in California) and prices are somewhat lower than previously; the Northwest prices don’t seem to have clobbered the market. Black and red plum have strong volume. Prices are promotable—lots of varieties available. Pluot is starting to pick up—look for Dapple Dandy, Flavor Grenade, Flavor Punch, Crimson Red, Flavor Queen and other delicious varieties coming on.

 

Vegetables

Broccoli/Cauliflower

Broccoli supply tightened at the end of this week and prices are trending up for the coming week. Cauliflower is in better supply. Cheddar and graffiti are steady.

Cabbage

Green and red cabbage are in steady supply. Savoy and Napa cabbage remain limited.

Corn

We’re hearing reports from several growers that a heat wave has been impacting the harvest. Extreme hot weather can lead to dehydration of the silks and tassels, leading to poor pollination and kernel set. High temperatures in July have significantly decreased crop volume. We expect supply to improve over in a week or so as Northwest corn crops begin to trickle down to California.

Cucumber

Slicer cucumbers are abundant. All other thin-skin cucumbers are very limited. Mediterranean cucumber is gapping for about three weeks. English Hothouse and Persian cukes will be very limited for the next three weeks; but supply should be steady after that.

Eggplant

Globe eggplant has steady availability but prices are a bit sporadic. Now is the time to build up your eggplant displays with beautiful varieties of specialty eggplant. What’s hot right now? The Neon eggplant is teardrop-shaped and has pink-purple neon skin. The flesh is smooth and creamy. Rosa Bianca is round in shape with rosy-lavender skin shaded with white. The delicate, mild flavor with no bitterness is delicious in all preparations. Listada de Gandia is a popular heirloom variety with lovely bright purple stripes. Chinese eggplant is long and thin—perfect for a quick stir fry! We love how the flesh becomes creamy and luxurious.

Greens, Lettuce & Herbs

High temperatures in the Salinas Valley region recently have caused ideal conditions for mildew development and dehydration for the delicate baby greens, particularly baby spinach. Once temperatures begin to come down, we can expect to see improvements in the condition of many boxed green items. Dino aka lacinato kale has been limited and prices are up. Romaine is limited. Red leaf is in good supply from our local producers. Local basil is readily available. Oregano is gapping due to quality issues.

Onion

Red and yellow onions have good supply on mediumsand jumbos sizes.  White onions are slightly limited on larger sizes. Shallots are steady. More growers are expected to come on with shallots in mid to late August, which means the return of peeled shallots!

Pea

Snap pea availability is improving, but English and snow pea are still unavailable.

Pepper

Green bell pepper availability has become more steady. Red and yellow bells are in better supply. Orange bells are more limited. The heat is on and we’re not talking about the weather! It is the peak of chili pepper season. Check out our hot lineup of flavorful scorchers! If you’re looking for a kick, check out the Habanero at 100,000-350,000 Scoville—this variety is legitimately HOT. Serrano is the next hottest at what we would call medium hot (10,000-23,000 Scoville.) Fresno, Cherry Bomb, and Jalapeño are more on the mild-medium heat range at 2,500-10,000 Scoville. Anaheim, Poblano, and Padron provide all the flavor with just a little heat at 500-2,500 Scoville. Let’s not overlook the seasonal non-spicy peppers. Shishito is flavorful and is delicious grilled with a pint of salt and citrus. Gypsy yellow and Gypsy orange peppers are terrific for frying or slicing up fresh for salads. Pimento pepper is sweet and very mild. The most popular use of pimentos is in pimento cheese aka “the caviar of the South.”

Sweet Potato

New crop Garnet and Jewel sweet potato have started. Prices are up at the start of the season. New crop Japanese, Hannah, and Purple Stoke are not yet available.

Squash

The California hard squash season is just starting up. Delicata is very limited but availability should pick up soon. Butternut is plentiful.  Kabocha and Spaghetti have come on. Look for more varieties this month. In soft squash land, zucchini is readily available. Sunburst is limited; we’re getting all we can. Check out other delicious varieties such as Gold Zucchini, Crookneck, and the Mixed Medley, which we fondly refer to as the summer fun pack!

Tomato

Tomatoes for everyone! California-grown Roma is plentiful. One- and two-layer tomatoes are a little bit limited but as more growers come on, supply should ease up. Cherry tomatoes have strong volume. Build up your display with beautiful Sungold, Mini Charm, and Juliette! We love the sweet flavor on these varieties—great for eating fresh! Mixed heirloom is in good supply. Straight pack heirlooms also readily available. Check out the Purple Cherokee, Brandywine and Marvel Stripe. Dry-farmed and non-dry-farmed Early girl tomatoes are steady. Look for these under the “Saladette” tomatoes on our list.

 

Merchandising Corner

How to Keep Produce Fresh & Cool

Summer provides us with many of our seasonal favorites. These amazing products also tend to be a little more on the delicate side and need extra TLC when handling and displaying.

Chilis and all other pepper varieties are coming on strong at this time. Shriveling is a common problem you might experience with peppers. If you are displaying your peppers in a cold case, air flow is the most likely cause of shrivel. Finding a way to display your peppers and protect them from the harsh cold air flow is easy. Create barriers from the air flow by using deep baskets, wooden crates or even using plexi bins with lids. Another option is displaying the product on a non-refrigerated table. This will work for your store whether you move a high or small volume amounts of product. As long as the product does not sit for more than a day and turns over quickly, this is a great solution. Protection from air flow exposure will prolong your pepper shelf life and prevent issues.

Zucchini and other summer squash are also prone to the same issue, and the same solutions apply to them as well. However, yellow squash varieties are susceptible to other issues like browning/bruising. Yellow summer squash does not like to be handled much or to be stacked on top of each other. If you are finding that you have a significant amount of browning, sometimes just putting out a smaller amount will solve this issue. Whatever you can do to limit handling and added friction from other product will help lessen the scarring and bruising.

Bunched herbs need some extra love to protect them from the ambient heat and air flow at this time of year. Herbs like basil and cilantro actually do very well displayed in containers of water. Some varieties of basil are very sensitive to any kind of cold and wilt very quickly once pulled out of the box. Basil and cilantro both hold up well unrefrigerated and do quite well cross-merchandised in displays with avocados, tomatoes, and garlic. Other herbs like rosemary, thyme, and sage also hold up well in containers of water. Not only is this a great way to store them, but it is also a way to add a little fresh décor to your department!

Flower bouquets are probably the most fragile and heat-sensitive of all the products you will carry. Most stores have their flower displays located in the front of the store to be the first thing seen when customers enter the store.  This is not the ideal location for many reasons. The hot air that enters the store every time the door opens is damaging to the bouquets. Most flowers come with some kind of protective wrapping, but this does not completely protect bouquets from hot gusts of air every time the doors open. Since flowers are highly perishable, every precaution should be taken to preserve their integrity. If flowers are displayed up front, you also risk the chance of customers dripping water throughout the store while shopping, creating potential slip-and-fall accidents. Lastly, if customers are carrying flowers around while shopping there is the chance of the bouquet getting damaged while in a basket or cart with other product. The ideal location for flowers is close to the register as an impulse buy. They are generally protected in this area of the store from outside heat and there is less opportunity to have water dripped throughout the store.

 

 

 

Day Warehouser

Day Warehousers work with team members on the Day Shift to receive, warehouse and ship fresh organic produce in a safe, accurate and timely manner while maintaining high quality standards with minimal product loss. The position reports to the Day Warehouse Supervisor and takes direction from Day Warehouse Team Leads.

Thursday – Monday 6:00 AM – 2:30 PM

(TUES/WED WEEKEND)

Mandatory overtime: Mondays (1 hour), Thursdays (1/2 hour), Fridays (1 hour)

Responsibilities:

  • Pull customer orders in an accurate, timely and safe manner
  • Complete pick slips accurately and neatly
  • Build proper (safe and sturdy) pallets and load product to meet truck completion deadlines
  • As directed by IC or Receive Lead participate in the safe and efficient flow of incoming product to ensure timely availability of product for order pulling
  • Provide accurate accounting of received product
  • Be familiar with storage requirements, product sensitivity and handling needs
  • Stock incoming product, rotating new stock into old, and dating lots
  • Understand and comply with VV’s safety policies, procedures and best practices and encourage co-workers to do the same
  • Maintain warehouse in a green, clean and orderly condition
  • Report equipment and facilities issues to Warehouse Supervisor and Facilities Manager
  • Successfully complete training on the safe use of material handling equipment and consistently operate equipment in a safe manner
  • Report product quality issues to Team Lead and Inventory Control
  • Attend and participate in Warehouse crew meetings
  • Participate as required in other tasks to ensure achievement of warehouse department goals

To Apply:

WAGE RANGE: $18.75 – $21.75

Aubergine Essentials

Eggplants or aubergines are a species of nightshade. They contain seeds, which technically makes them a fruit. Most people are familiar with the plump egg-shaped purple variety, but there are many types available—some not even purple at all. While the flavor is more or less the same, the texture, shape, and skin color can vary greatly. Small globe-shaped eggplants tend to be more dense; the larger or more elongated they are, the more delicate they are. Long, slender eggplants tend to turn especially creamy with long cooking.

Asian varieties are long and skinny. They’re mild, tender, and low in seeds. Chinese eggplants are usually lighter and can be white, light purple, or even lavender-streaked. Japanese eggplant have darker purple skin and are firm and sweet.

Green eggplants are generally sweeter and less bitter than other colors. They come in all shapes and sizes.

White-skinned eggplants tend to have thicker skins and are often peeled for more tender texture. They tend to hold their shape when cooked more than the big purple varieties.

Small red and orange eggplants look a lot like tomatoes. They are generally seedy and can be bitter (but not always).

When choosing eggplant, look for smooth, taut, and shiny skins. The calyx (the green cap at the top) should be firmly intact. If you see brown spots, keep clear: the flesh around them will likely be bitter.

Keep a lookout for our staff picks noted in orange.

Fruit

Apple and Pear

It’s that time of year again. California Galas from Viva Tierra will be available at the end of next week!  Ferrari Farms expects to come on in two weeks followed by Cuyama Orchards at the end of August. We still have great supply on a variety of apples from New Zealand. Be sure to check out the Fujis and Cripps Pink. New Zealand apples have the highest quality and highest color as the growing region is similar to Wenatchee, Washington.  We’re seeing sharp pricing on small-size Granny Smith and bags.

California Barlett pears are starting up next week!

Avocado

Prices are going up every few days. We should see Hass supply last through September.

Berry

Prices are up on strawberries out of Watsonville, but supply is steady. Blueberry production from the Northwest is expected to remain strong this week. Blackberry supply is steady. We may see raspberries from Coke Farm coming soon.

Citrus

California-grown Valencia oranges are winding down. Prices are ticking up and expected to stay there. As the California lemon season ends, the market remains tight and expensive.  Look for more Mexican lemons next week. Supply should improve when Coachella Valley lemons come on in September. Limes will be limited for the next few weeks. Meyer lemon availability is spotty as supply tightens up. Peruvian imported Satsumas are here in steady supply. Both pouches and flats are available!

Grape

The grape market is flush with supply, particularly on red Flames. Prices are already falling on red, black and green seedless varieties. Champagne grapes have arrived with Muscats close behind. We won’t see Concord or Bronx grapes until mid-August.

Mango

Tommy Atkins are plentiful. Kents have come on with steady supply. Kents have sweet and rich flavor with juicy, tender flesh and limited fibers. This variety is ideal for juicing and drying. We have fair trade Kents available for about four weeks. We are excited to announce that one of our growers from Mexico, Jorge Perez, has just received his Fair Trade USA certification! Jorge’s Kent and Keitt mangoes are grown in Northern Sinaloa, which is in the “no fly” zone. Unlike most other imported mangoes, these fair trade mangoes do not require chemical or hot water treatment—a requirement that disrupts the ripening and compromises the integrity (and taste) of the fruit.

Melon

Rundle Family Farms seeded and seedless watermelon bins are done for the season—and what a delicious season it was! Mini seedless cartons are still available and we’ll have more seeded and seedless bins from other growers. Cantaloupe and honeydew are in good supply. If you’re looking for specialty melons, we have Charentais, Piel de Sapo, Canary, Galia, and Orange Honeydew on hand.

Specialty Fruit

Passion fruit is starting! Dragon fruit is coming soon.

Stone fruit

California apricots are done for the season. White Lightning apricots from Washington are just about done. There are several other white apricots, the Tieton White (named after the town where Hamony Farms is located), as well as La Crème, and coming soon, Moonshine! Regular apricots are in good supply right now, but overall crop is light, with firm pricing. Bing cherries are done and Rainiers are finishing up. Darksweets will continue for several more weeks. White nectarines are readily available. Yellow nectarines are mostly tight,as are yellow peaches. White peaches are in good supply—check out the delicious Babcock at sharp pricing. Black and red plums are steady. Pluots are starting to become abundant—lots of varieties available! Pluots will last until the late fall.

 

Vegetables

Bean

Green bean supply has tightened a bit and prices are up. Plenty of specialty beans are available, including purple, Romano, and cranberry beans. More bean than cranberry, this variety is also known as borlotti or shell bean. They get their name from the deep red or cranberry colored marks on the shell. We love the rich velvety texture and delicious flavor!

Broccoli/Cauliflower

Broccoli prices are down and supply is abundant. Strong production is expected to continue. Cauliflower availability is steady; supply is expected to increase. Prices have started to come down. Cheddar and graffiti also have good volume. As is normal in the summer, there may be slight purpling on the heads (which does not affect taste.) Aphid pressure is also heightened in the warmer months.

Cabbage

Red cabbage remains in tight supply with prices high. Green cabbage supply is strong and likely to continue. Napa cabbage is also limited.

Corn

Corn has strong and steady supply.

Eggplant

Globe supply has improved and should be steady. Specialty eggplant have come on in full force. Rosa Bianca is a gorgeous Italian variety that is round in shape. Its rosy-lavender skin is shaded with white. We love the delicate, mild flavor with no bitterness and creamy consistency. Listada de Gandia is a popular heirloom variety with lovely bright purple stripes. Let’s not overlook the oh-so-versatile thin-skinned Japanese eggplant. Supply is steady on this classic eggplant. Can’t decide? There’s also a mixed variety specialty pack!

Greens, Lettuce & Herbs

Green kale is in great supply. We’re also seeing steady numbers on red kale. Dino (a.k.a. lacinato) kale still has good availability, but supply is tightening up a bit. Leaf lettuces are plentiful. Butter and Romaine are steady. Basil and cilantro have good volume.

Onion

We’re seeing stable supply on yellow, red, and white onions with plenty of local availability. Shallots are continuing in limited supply. Volume should improve mid-August when more growers start up.

Pea

Peas are starting to come back into availability, but it is not yet steady for any variety.

Pepper

Green bell peppers are in good supply. Red bells are starting to have good volume. Yellow and orange bells are available, but more limited. Chili peppers are heating up the market! We have lots of varieties on hand: Anaheim, Fresno, Fresno Red, Hungarian Yellow, Serrano and plenty of Jalapeño. Poblanos are still limited. In the market for something with a little less spice? Gypsy yellow and Gypsy orange peppers are terrific for frying or slicing up fresh for salads.  We also love the sweet and mildly pungent flavor of Italian sweet frying peppers.

Squash

Zucchini and crookneck are in good supply. We have a smattering of specialty squash including Ronde de Nice, Zephyr, Costata Romanesco, and mixed medley—check back often to see what’s available! Kabocha and Delicata are very limited. However, Butternut, Acorn, and Spaghetti are all readily available. Check out Carnival and Celebration! The squash skin has spotted and striped colors of white, orange, yellow, and green which adds a vibrant pop to your squash displays.

Tomato

It’s a good time to be a tomato! California-grown Romas are readily available. One- and two-layer are in good supply with competitive prices. Tomatoes-on-vine are a little more limited but steady. Local supply is not available. It’s a cherry tomato bonanza right now! Supply is strong with plenty of variety. From Sungold to Mini Charm to Sweet 100; we have you covered! California heirlooms are in full swing. We’re seeing gorgeous straight packs of Purple Cherokee, Lemon Boy, Marvel Stripe, Pineapple, and more! The mixed heirloom pack is always a crowd pleaser. Early girl tomatoes are steady. We’re offering both dry-farmed and non dry-farmed. Look for these under the “Saladette” tomatoes on our list.

 

Floral

Dahlia and Sunflower straight packs from Thomas Farm are now available! These are the perfect vibrant summer addition to your floral offering. We also offer seasonal mixed bouquets from both Thomas Farm and Full Belly Farm in various sizes. Preorder now with your Account Manager!

 

Merchandising Corner

Keeping Your Potatoes Fresh

Greening and sprouting potatoes is a common problem for many produce departments. For larger produce departments, throwing out a handful of potatoes is insignificant compared to the hundreds of pounds of potatoes they move in a day. But for smaller departments, that are moving just a few pounds a day, the loss due to greening and sprouting can start to add up quickly. As soon as potatoes come out of their box and hit the light, they start to turn green. The light triggers a reaction for the potato to produce chlorophyll. The green itself isn’t a problem, but the same conditions that cause a potato to produce chlorophyll also cause it to produce solanine, a natural toxin that can cause intestinal upsets. A whole display can turn green overnight. That process can happen fast! Both the lights in the store and sunlight can trigger the reaction.

Most departments practice covering their potatoes at night but again, for departments that have slower movement this may not be enough. Some departments go above and beyond to protect the integrity of their potatoes and have put a stop to greening and sprouting completely. Mariposa Market in Willits, California keeps their specialty potatoes in their cold case in specially designed little potato boxes with sliding lids. This is a great idea! It completely blocks out the light and keeps the potatoes cold which inhibits sprouting. This allows the store to provide a variety of selection to the customers and minimize shrink.

Los Alamos Co-op in Los Alamos, New Mexico tends to their potatoes with a little extra TLC. They had little blankets made with a potato print fabric just for their potatoes. The print helps to identify what product is under the blanket. Keeping the potatoes covered at all times cuts down the potatoes exposure to light. Taking a little extra care with the potatoes can make all the difference!

An even simpler solution than custom boxes or specialty blankets is good old burlap. Most produce departments have burlap laying around. You can create curtains for your display or just keep them covered.

As with any produce department endeavor, educating store staff and customers is key part of success. Train your staff to understand why potatoes turn green and why they are covered. Engage with customers and explain the natural process and what your department is doing to keep the potatoes as fresh as possible. Signage near your potato display is also helpful—have fun with these! Clever messaging can be very impactful.

Whatever your resources are, make it work for you. The goal is to keep your potatoes away from the light and to keep shrink to a minimum. Try one or all of these potato saving solutions and watch your potato shrink shrink way down!

 

Just Peachy

 

What is summer without the lovely peach?  This summer fruit is versatile and can be enjoyed fresh or in any number of savory or sweet preparations.

Peaches belong to the Prunus family, which also includes cherries, apricots, almonds, and plums. Peaches and nectarines are actually the same species even though we consider them different fruits. Peaches have the characteristic fuzz on the skin, whereas nectarines have smooth fuzz-less skin.

Peaches are divided into clingstone and freestone, depending on whether the flesh sticks to the stone or not. Both can have either white or yellow flesh. Peaches with white flesh typically are very sweet with little acidity, and a more floral aroma. Yellow-fleshed peaches typically have more acidity coupled with sweetness, though this also varies. Some yellow peaches have been bred to have more sugar and less acid and are called ‘sub-acid’ varieties. Remember, the more acidic, the more Vitamin C is present, and the flavor is stronger.

The peach is believed to have originated in China as early as 6000 BC in the Zhejiang Province of China. It was later brought to the Americas by Spanish explorers in the 16th century. Currently, China produces nearly 60% of the world’s peaches and nectarines. Georgia (also known as the “Peach State”), California, and South Carolina are also big producers.

Keep a lookout for our staff picks noted in orange.

 

Fruit

Apple and Pear

We’re seeing good supply on large and small sizes of Cripps Pink. Crop failure in Europe may impact supply domestically and push prices up. Fuji supply is tightening; look for price increases. Gala pricing will remain strong. Sharp pricing is available on smaller Granny Smith fruit.

Overall, pears are winding down. There is still availability but mostly on larger sizes. Red Anjou are on hand now and we may see some Winter Bartletts soon.

Avocado

California avocadoes are expected to go until September at the latest. The crop is not huge, but the eating quality is terrific. Prices will go up as supply tightens.

Berry

Strawberry supply remains steady. Quality has been strong. Check out JSM Organic Farm strawberries, now arriving in 100% recyclable ReadyCycle™ cardboard containers.  The containers are unwaxed and use vegetable-based ink. We love this new sustainable packaging alternative designed for the existing cardboard recycling stream. Blueberry production from the Northwest is surging. Supply is abundant; prices are competitive. Raspberry supply from Mexico is ending soon. We’ll likely see an extended gap until fall. Blackberry supply is a bit spotty from the Santa Maria region. We may see a gap in the coming weeks when the bushes are trimmed back to clear the berries that are not sizing up.

Citrus

California Valencias are available now but limited and in high demand. Most of our growers are predicting having supply only through August. We’re expecting prices to remain high and increase even more as supply tightens.  Mexican Valencias won’t be coming on until November. Lemons are going to be very tight for the next couple weeks. California supply is winding down fast, and Mexican supply is limited and availability is spotty. Stronger supply of Mexican lemons will be available at the end of July. Meyer lemons are gapping for a couple weeks. Limes are fortunately in better supply and pretty steady. And they are fantastic right now, great flavor and very juicy. Satsuma tangerines from Peru have arrived; pouches and flats are both available.

Fig

The first short crop of figs is winding down. We’ll see a gap until the second crop comes on at the end of July or in early August.

Grape

Supply on black, red Flame and Green seedless grapes is steady. Our main grower has transitioned from the Coachella growing region to Bakersfield in the Central Valley. Other California growers in the Central Valley are starting up. Prices should come down soon.

Kiwi

California kiwi season has come to an end. However, New Zealand fruit is here and keeping supply steady. If you’re looking for something new to add to your shelf or menu, try the gold kiwi fruit. The flavor is sweet and juicy! Cut some open to show customers the beautiful color inside.

Melon

Goddess melon is in good supply. Although similar to Cantaloupe, the “netting” on the skin of the Goddess melon is not as raised as that of a Cantaloupe. The flesh is softer and very fruity. Goddess melon is delicious in smoothies! Galia, Honeydew, and Cantaloupe are plentiful. Orange Honeydew continues to be tight. We’re seeing strong volume on full-size seeded and seedless watermelon bins and on mini seedless as well.

Stone fruit

Blenheim apricots are plentiful. This apricot variety is delicious to eat right out of hand. The honey-like flavor has the perfect balance of sweetness and acidity. Bing cherries are just about done, but Darksweet (all sweet red types) will continue due to cool weather in the Northwest.  Rainiers are a bit tight and their season will wrap up before the Darksweets are finished. Unreliable trucking from Washington and Oregon has made sourcing fruit from this region a little more challenging. White nectarines are in good supply. Yellow nectarines have been somewhat limited, but supply is improving. Yellow peaches are eating great, and prices have been firm, particularly on larger sizes. Washington’s cooler weather has increased demand on California product. White peaches are steadier, we are proud to offer Naylor Organics’ Babcock white peach which is heavenly! Red plums are in good supply this week but generally the crop is short. Black plums are less available than red plum, thus commanding higher prices. We’re going to have to wait a little longer for Dapple Fire pluots as they need more time to ripen. Pluots usually come on heavy at the end of July.

 

Vegetables

Artichoke

Supply is limited and prices are up. We’re getting all we can!

Bean

Green beans are steady but more limited. Expect prices to be higher. Fava beans are extremely limited. Yellow wax beans and French beans are relatively steady. Purple beans are gapping. Have you heard of Chinese red noodle beans? This stunning deep red-purple bean from Comanche Creek will draw lots of attention on your produce stand. The pods can grow up to 18” long! They are full of nutrients and even keep some of the color when cooked.

Cauliflower

White cauliflower supply is limited due to aphid pressure and heat related issues. Cheddar cauliflower is back in supply and available at competitive pricing.

Cabbage

Green cabbage continues to have strong supply. Red cabbage is still limited and prices remain high. Savoy cabbage is steady. Napa prices have spiked as a result of a decrease in production due to sizing issues.

Corn

We’re seeing an abundance of bi-color and white corn right now. Our growers have strong and steady volume. Quality is high!

Cucumber

Slicers are in good supply. Prices have been steady. Persian cucumbers are extremely limited and prices are high. We’re seeing small shots of English cucumbers but availability remains shaky. Lemon cucumbers are readily available. These are an heirloom variety named for its size and yellow color, rather than flavor. It has a mild, clean, crisp non-lemony taste.

Eggplant

Globe prices are up as supply has tightened. Japanese and Chinese specialty eggplant are on hand now.

Greens, Lettuce & Herbs

With the summer heat in the daytime and cool nights, this can be a challenging time of year for boxed greens. Fortunately, quality issues have been minimal and supply has been good. Bunched dino (a.k.a. lacinato) and green kale are steady. Romaine lettuce is steady, but other leaf and butter lettuces may be more limited. Our main local grower is expecting a gap in August after missing a planting this month. However, our diverse mix of growers should keep supply steady through this period. Basil, cilantro, and parsley are all steady.

Onion

Peri & Sons Farms will be coming back with their California crop of red and yellow onions starting next week. Phil Foster Ranches will also be coming on with their Pinnacle label onions soon.  Both growers should have good supply. Shallots are finally back in limited supply. Volume is small to start but should improve mid-to late July.

Pepper

Overall pepper availability is starting to ramp up as more California growers come on with bells. Prices are falling fast on both choice and large/extra-large green bell peppers. Supply is strong. Orange bells are very limited. Supply for red bells is improving. Yellow bells are limited; we’ll see a small shot from Mexico but may see a gap after that. Serranos, jalapeños and Anaheims are in steady supply. Cherry bombs are back! Still no availability on poblanos and sweet mini pepper medley. Gypsy yellow peppers are one of the first specialty peppers to come on. Don’t overlook the Italian sweet frying peppers! We love the sweet and mildly pungent flavor. Fried, stuffed, or pickled—these are perfect for summer soirées.

Potato

Yukon gold potatoes are done for the season. However, we’ll see Golden ‘A’s and ‘B’s starting up for those looking for a delicious yellow potato. Red potatoes have great supply. Now is the time to try specialty potatoes! Bi-color Mascarade, buttery German Butterball, beautiful Mountain Rose—you name it, we got it! Plenty of fingerling options on hand including rainbow fingerlings, French fingerlings, and Russian Banana.  Let your Account Manager know if you’re interested in a specific variety not on our list!

Root

The first trickle of specialty roots has begun with Scarlet Queen turnips. Daikon is in good supply. Celery root is still limited. Rutabaga, parsnip, and purple-top turnips still have availability. The beet market is a little erratic right now. Bunched beet prices are a bit higher than normal. Generally, there is good supply on all red, gold, and Chioggia beets.

Specialty Vegetable

Nopales (cactus pads), okra, and tomatillo are all in good supply.

Squash

Zucchini is readily available. Crookneck is going strong. We’re still seeing steady supply on mixed medley specialty squash. California hard squash season is picking up and we’ll have steady availability on most varietals. Kabocha squash is very limited.  Acorn, Butternut, Delicata, Spaghetti, and Celebration (similar to Carnival squash) are all in good supply.

Tomato

California is coming on with tomatoes. One-layer slicers are tight, but two-layers are in good supply with product from both Mexico and local California growers. Tomatoes-on-vine are steady. California-grown Romas are starting with limited numbers. Cherry tomatoes are plentiful in every size and color. We have Sungold, Sweet 100, Juliette, mixed medley, heirloom medley, and more! California heirlooms are picking up as more growers come on. Mixed heirloom packs have good volume. Straight packs are more limited right now. Early girl tomatoes have started. Look for these under the “Saladette” tomatoes on our list.

 

Merchandising Corner

Fermentation and Pickling

If you have a deli area or access to a production kitchen, pickling and fermenting fruits and vegetables, is a great way to enjoy summer’s bounty well through the colder months. It is also a great way to introduce delicious value-added products. Once considered just a side dish, pickles (which encompasses all types) and fermented foods are gaining popularity with chefs, home cooks and everday consumers.

Fermentation is a word we hear a lot these days but what does it really mean and what is the

difference between fermenting and pickling? Both fermenting and pickling are ancient methods used to preserve food. The confusion between the two happens because they actually overlap. Some fermented foods are pickled, and some pickled foods are fermented. Still confused? Let’s break it down a little more.

Pickling is a method that preserves food in a brine (salt or salty water) or an acid like vinegar or lemon juice. Fermentation is a technique that preserves and transforms food by using the benign bacteria that lives naturally on the surface of the food. The actual definition is the chemical breakdown of a substance by bacteria, yeasts, or other microorganisms, typically involving effervescence and giving off heat. But what does that all really mean? During fermentation, the sugars and carbohydrates present in the food have been eaten by the good bacteria (often lactic acid bacteria). The bacteria then convert that sugar into other substances, like acids, carbon dioxide, and alcohol and those substances preserve the food and add to its flavor. So that is the secret to why fermented food is so tasty: all those active bacteria! Most fermented foods, like pickles, start out in a brine. Some items can be both pickled and fermented. While pickled items are still nutritious, fermented foods are the ones that provide amazing health benefits like beneficial enzymes, B vitamins, Omega‐3 fatty acids, and various strains of probiotics.

Whether you make your own in-house or carry some ready-made brands, stocking pickled and fermented items is an easy way to increase basket size. Cross merchandise miso next to eggplants for delicious Nasu Dengaku. How about kimchi near your summer BBQ display for a quick and easy side dish? Pair sauerkraut with your favorite sausage. The possibilities are endless! Now is the time to help shoppers discover the deliciousness of pickled and fermented foods!

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.