Author Archives: Veritable Vegetable

Satsumas, Mandarins, Tangerines, Oh My!

In the midst of citrus season, there are many varieties of small, orange fruits available. With over 167 different hybrids and varietals recognized by the Citrus Variety Collection of the University of California, it’s no surprise people often confuse mandarins, satsumas, clementines and tangerines. In the U.S, mandarins and tangerines are commonly used interchangeably even though they are not the same thing. All tangerines are a type of mandarin but not all mandarins are tangerines.

Here’s a breakdown of the differences between these popular citrus fruits.

Mandarins are a type of orange although generally smaller and sweeter than oranges. They are flatter in shape with thinner, loose skin that is easier to peel.

Tangerines are a type of mandarin with bright orange slightly tougher skins. The flavor is tarter and less sweet.

Clementines are the smallest type of mandarin. They are super sweet, seedless and have orangey-red skin that is smooth and shiny. They are easier to peel than tangerines but not as easy as satsumas.

Satsumas are a specific type of mandarin originating in Japan more than 700 years ago. They are usually lighter in color, sweet, juicy and seedless. This is the easiest variety to peel.

 

Keep a lookout for our staff picks noted in orange.

 

Fruit

Apple and Pear

Heirloom apples are winding down. Prices are competitive. Lots of variety on the market to build up your apple display. Pink Lady apples are tasting delicious with beautiful color. Orins have a juicy fruity flavor with hints of pineapple and pear. Opals have distinctively crunchy texture, flora aroma and a sweet tangy flavor. Incredibly, Opals naturally do not brown after cutting! Fuji has strong supply. Great deals on Gala. The list goes on! Talk to your Account Manager about which apples are right for you.

We’re seeing strong supply on Comice well into next year, but overall pears are winding down. Good volume on Red D’Anjou but demand is high! These won’t last. Bosc and D’Anjou on hand now. Starkrimson are done for the season. We won’t see import Bartletts from Argentina until March. In what can only be called as a pear miracle, we were able to source one last shot of 20th Century and New Century Asian pears. Supply is limited—act fast!

Avocado

Hass prices are jumping up again. Growers are expecting that there will be little or no fruit coming into the states from Mexico after December 22 until after the first of the year due to holiday closures. Green-skinned Bacon avocados have sharp pricing on 36 count and larger sizes. Volume deals available for those interested in taking pallets. For California growers, the Santa Ana winds have wreaked havoc all over the state. The winds are blowing what little fruit there is of next year’s crop off the trees, most of which is not mature enough to sell. Other growers are located dangerously close to the wild fire zone. Expect some volatility in price, supply and quality as we head into 2018. Sneak preview, due to the Ventura Fire on the Central Coast of California, some growers want to get in and size-pick some of the new crop of domestic Hass, so stand by for further developments. California Fuerte are just around the corner, so be prepared for sharp prices on domestic green-skin fruit over the next month.

Berry

Domestic blueberry supply has good volume. The winter blueberry production out of Santa Maria, if yields are similar to last year, will run through April. Import blueberry supply will increase in December with product from Mexico adding to the increased volume out of Chile which tends to peak in late January and February. Import blackberries and raspberries are steady in supply. California strawberries are still going thanks to warmer weather in coastal areas. They should last until a frost hits, which is expected at this time of year.  Mexico imported strawberries should be starting up soon. There are still plenty of cranberries available for the upcoming holiday rush, both in 8 ounce bags and 20 pound bulk.

Citrus

Early Valencia from Mexico are here now with sharp pricing. Supply is limited so prices are not expected to last. Blood oranges should be available in late December. Our main grower is anticipating better sizing than last year. Navels are readily available. Supply is strong. Cara Cara Navels have arrived. Quality is great. We love the sweet juicy flavor! Meyer lemons are plentiful as most growers have come on for the season. If you’ve never tried Meyer lemons, now is the time! Much less acidic than regular lemons, the sweet flavor is perfect for enjoying raw on salads or desserts. The rind has an interesting spicy bergamot fragrance that tastes and smells like a spice. Clementines are finishing soon but Algerian Clementines have come on. This variety is known for having a thin skin that comes off easily. Fairchild tangerines are winding down. Dancy tangerines will be starting shortly after that. Orlando Tangelos, a hybrid of the Duncan grapefruit and Dancy tangerine, are available now. The flavor is mildly sweet and very juicy. Satsuma supply is steady. Don’t forget to check out the 5-lb Satsuma gift boxes!

Date

Looking for a date this holiday season? We’ve got you covered. Medjool dates have extraordinary sweetness and chewy texture. Deglet dates are firmer and less sweet than the Medjool variety. Both can be eaten fresh or used in a variety of dishes (bacon wrapped dates anyone?) Because of their sweetness and texture, dates are often used as an all-natural sweetener. We also carry a handful of delicious date products. Coco Rolls are ground dates rolled in dried coconut threads. Pecan Nuggets are rolled in chopped pecans and Almond Nuggets are rolled in chopped almonds.

Grape

Green seedless are just about done for the season. Red seedless are limited. Peru-imported red globe grapes should be coming on in late January.

Mango

Small sizes of Tommy Atkins are limited. Larger sizes available. We do not expect to see Ataulfos until January.

Melon

Mini seedless watermelon is winding down. Orange honeydew, Cantaloupe and Piel de Sapo are done for the season. Honeydew is also ending soon. Harper and Galia melons will start the 3rd week of December.

Persimmon

Fuyu persimmons have strong volume. Hachiyas are done for the season.

Pomegranate

Pomegranates are just about done for the season. Available fruit is eco grade with some minor scarring on the exterior but good quality arils inside.

Specialty Fruit

Passion fruit is limited and trickling in here and there. Jujubes are done for the season as are dragon fruit. Cherimoya is gapping in supply but should be available again soon. Young Thai coconut and Mexico imported coconut are readily available.

Stonefruit

Sweet Red Cherry season from the Southern Hemisphere has begun with Argentina beating out New Zealand to start up. Look for the first good import crop to come from the ‘other side of the world’ in several years! (They have had unpredictable and bad weather just like the Northern Hemisphere.)

 

Nuts

There’s nothing nuttier than customers clamoring for roasted nuts during the winter months. Be prepared and check our inventory of tasty nuts!  Almonds are available every which way: roasted, roasted and salted, or shelled non-pariel. Walnuts and assorted nut mixes round out the selection. Check our list often more new offerings.

 

Vegetables

Asparagus

Green asparagus is limited and prices are going up. Purple is also limited.

Broccoli/Cauliflower

Broccoli prices are on the rise as many large growers have now transitioned fully to their desert growing regions. Cauliflower supply may tighten towards the second half of the month and prices should creep up accordingly.

Carrot

Jumbo carrots are in back in supply after a short gap. Juice carrots are now readily available. Prices are coming down. Bunched carrots are steady.

Celery

Local California producers are ticking along as the weather has been favorable with no sign of a freeze yet. However, recent production reports are showing that current supply is not sizing up. Overall supply and price should remain steady as other growers come on.

Cucumber

Bulk Persian cucumbers are steady but clamshell supply is very tight. European ‘cukes are abundant; prices are promotable.

Eggplant

Globe prices are dropping quickly. Graffiti has good volume. Have you tried white eggplant before? This variety is oval and egg-shaped with white skin and cream flesh. The raw flavor is fruity and mild. When cooked, it takes on a mellow flavor with creamy texture.

Garlic and Ginger

Garlic has steady supply. Good news for those looking for natural remedies to ward off winter colds. Yellow Peruvian ginger prices are up. Turmeric has good volume this season. Like garlic, turmeric is known for its beneficial anti-inflammatory properties. Keep this item handy this season. Supply is expected to last through January.

Greens, Lettuce & Herbs

The seasonal transition from coastal and Salinas Valley growing regions to the desert regions of California and Arizona is wrapping up. Because crops are more delicate at the beginning of the desert season, there can be more instances of mechanical damage at this time of the season. Local bunched lacinato (aka dino kale) supply is limited with frosty nights now the norm.  Bunches grown north of the desert tend to be shorter as the leaves don’t grow as productively during the short days and colder temperatures. Bunched green kale is in better supply from local producers but will also be affected by frost in the weeks to come. Desert production for bunched greens in in full swing so supply should be steady overall.

The popular Trina/Perry label from Fremont, California Perry Organic Farms is done with lettuces for the season. Other Salinas Valley and coastal growers are ending soon as well. Fortunately, our diverse mix of suppliers allows us to rely on desert producers in California and Arizona as well as some farms in Santa Barbara during this season.

Pea

Snap peas and snow peas are readily available. Supply is steady as Mexico production slowly picks up. Still waiting on Mexican English peas to come on.

Pepper

California green bell peppers are just about done. Supply will be supported with Mexico product. Orange bell peppers are limited until more Mexico growers come on. Red bell peppers supply is very tight but starting to improve as Mexican growers transition into new growing regions. Yellow bell pepper has better volume than its counterparts. Supply is getting steadier. Domestic chilies are done for the season. Mexico prices are very strong. Sweet peppers are not readily available.

Potato

Russet potatoes are in short supply. Growers are reporting that the crop is not sizing up. Due to trucking issues, potatoes sourced from one of our main suppliers, Nature’s Pride in the Northwest are undergoing a price increase.

Squash

Hard squash supply is steady with plenty of variety to keep your shelves colorful this season. Look for Acorn, Butternut, and Spaghetti squash from Hollister based Bob Swanson Ranch, packed under the Bunkhouse label. This family farm’s specialty is hard squash. Also on hand in abundant supply: Carnival, Kabocha, Red Kuri, Sweet Dumpling and Sugar Pie Pumpkin.

Tomato

Prices on one and two-layer tomatoes are way up. Lower temperatures in Mexico has impacted supply. #2 quality beefsteak tomatoes from Wholesum Harvest are now available. The quality is strong and great for processors, delis and restaurants. Romas are tight and expensive. Sweet grapes are plentiful. Mexican heirlooms are two weeks out!

 

Dried Fruit

Dried persimmon slices from Biodynamic producer Beck Grove are a naturally sweet and delicious snack! We have plenty of dried raisins available in every variety: red, green and black. Sundried tomatoes have sweet, concentrated tomato flavor that makes it the perfect addition to any savory dish.

 

Grocery and Dairy

Straus Family Creamery eggnog is ending soon. Get your orders in before it’s gone for the season. Their old-fashioned organic eggnog is made with simple, organic ingredients and finished with a touch of organic nutmeg. No emulsifiers or thickeners are used in this rich, blend of organic milk, organic cream, organic sugar and organic and pasteurized egg yolks. It’s sure to become a holiday favorite!

In juice news, Columbia Gorge orange juice will now only be available in gallon jugs. Other varieties including lime, lemon, and grapefruit are still available in half gallon jugs.

This is the time of year when maple syrup products should be enticing! 6oz candy makes a great ‘stocking stuffer’ or easily-plated party desert; a jar of maple cream makes a rich, decadent thank-you gift for a co-worker, colleague, or family member. Turn on to something that is heavenly, and produced by a grower co-op!

 

Floral

Due to wet winter conditions, Thomas Farm is done with all fresh flowers until fields are drier. Full Belly Farm has finished with dried bouquets and wreaths. Stay tuned for floral updates in the new year!

 

Merchandising Corner

Add Value to Your Produce Department

Customers can almost always find a cheaper place to shop. Trying to compete based on price along puts you in a “race to the bottom,” making it extremely difficult to succeed. Offering a diverse product line appealing to your target customer, creating enticing displays, utilizing easy to read signage and maintaining a clean department are all ways to appeal to your customer base. In addition, your Produce Department must offer excellent customer service to demonstrate you truly care about customer satisfaction.

Satisfying customers should be the highest priority of every member of the Produce Department. A satisfied customer purchases more on each visit and visits more often. Creating a satisfying experience begins by following the guidelines already discussed and by following a few additional rules of thumb.

  • Treat every customer with respect and courtesy.
  • Use the 10-4 rule when a customer approaches you:
    • Within 10’—acknowledge the customer’s presence; a smile, friendly nod or wave is all that is needed.
    • Within 4’—verbally engage by greeting in a friendly, professional manner; a “Good morning/afternoon/evening, how are you?” or “Is there something I can help you find?” or “Are you finding everything you need?” are all effective options. The idea is to offer assistance without striking up a long conversation as neither of you have time to chat.
  • Never say “I don’t know” without following it with “but let me find out for you.” Follow through on getting whatever is requested. If follow-up is required after the shopper leaves the store, make sure you have contact information. If the question is about another department’s product, connect the shopper with the appropriate person to help.
  • Be familiar with the day’s specials, particularly tasty items, so you can suggest items if a customer seems receptive to ideas or asks specifically.
  • Suggest an alternative product if a customer is looking for an unavailable item.
  • Become familiar with the farm labels the store carries, to share the grower information with customers. Online grower profiles are available as a resource at veritablevegetable.com
  • Field Guide to Produce: How to Identify, Select, and Prepare Virtually Every Fruit and Vegetable at the Market, by Aliza Green is a handy reference for answering questions about nutritional value, cooking methods, etc. Refer to it as needed to provide exceptional service.
  • Provide customers a chart outlining how to properly store fruits and vegetables to maintain the best taste and quality.

As part of offering excellent customer service, ensure everyone in the Produce Department can confidently answer the commonly asked question: “Why buy organic produce?” The following list provided by the Organic Trade Association, shares the top reasons why buying organic produce is “better for the earth, better for people and animals, and better for eaters.”

  • Organic products meet stringent standards.Organic certification is the public’s assurance that products have been grown and handled according to strict procedures without persistent toxic chemical inputs.
  • Organic food tastes great! It’s common sense—well-balanced soils produce strong, healthy plants that become nourishing food for people and animals.
  • Organic production reduces health risks. Many EPA-approved pesticides were registered long before extensive research linked these chemicals to cancer and other diseases. Organic agriculture is one way to prevent any more of these chemicals from getting into the air, earth, and water that sustain us.
  • Organic farms respect our water resources. The elimination of polluting chemicals and nitrogen leaching, done in combination with soil building, protects and conserves water resources.
  • Organic farmers build healthy soil.Soil is the foundation of the food chain. The primary focus of organic farming is to use practices that build healthy soils.
  • Organic farmers work in harmony with nature. Organic agriculture respects the balance demanded of a healthy ecosystem: wildlife is encouraged by including forage crops in rotation and by retaining fence rows, wetlands, and other natural areas.
  • Organic producers are leaders in innovative research.Organic farmers have led the way with innovative on-farm research aimed at reducing pesticide use and minimizing agriculture’s impact on the environment.
  • Organic producers strive to preserve diversity.The loss of a large variety of species (biodiversity) is one of the most pressing environmental concerns. The good news is that many organic farmers and gardeners have been collecting and preserving seeds, and growing unusual varieties for decades.
  • Organic farming helps keep rural communities healthy. Organic agriculture can be a lifeline for small farms because it offers an alternative market where sellers can command fair prices for crops.

 

 

Return of the Navel

It’s citrus season, which means many of our favorite fruits are back! Domestic Washington variety navels make their first appearance in mid to late October and are available in good supply through winter. The navel is a large seedless orange that is sweet and easy to peel. The juicy segments generally separate effortlessly which make these the perfect easy to eat snack citrus. Although there are several navel varieties out there the Washington and Fukumoto are the most common. Other varieties you may see are the Lane, Riverside and Skaggs Bonanza.

The navel originated from a single tree that was planted in Brazil in 1820. This tree had a mutation, causing two oranges to be produced within one single piece of fruit. The navel first made its break onto the California scene in the late 1800’s and helped create what we know as the California citrus industry today. The navel is one of the more famous standout products that California has to offer. This exceptional citrus grows all over the state giving us great supply and a long harvest season. So how can you tell the difference between a navel and other oranges? By its bellybutton of course! The navel gets its name from an underdeveloped immature fruit at the blossom end of the orange. There are many ways to enjoy these big juicy oranges so pick some up and add a piece of California history to your diet!

Keep a lookout for our staff picks noted in orange.

 

Fruit

Apple and Pear

Heirloom prices are coming down—time to stock up on your favorites! Spitzenburgs have rich, fruity aromatic flavor and crisp flesh. They make a great dessert apple and are often a favorite at Christmas time. Golden Russets were introduced in 1845 in New York state. They are usually considered the best flavored of the American russet apples thanks to its sweet honeyed taste. Ashmead’s Kernel, a traditional English russet apple, is popular for its distinctive pear-like flavor. Opals are juicy, crispy and delicious—everything you want in an apple! Kanzi is a cross between a sweet tangy Braeburn and juicy Gala with beautiful red and yellow coloring. Orins have a tropical aroma and sweet, crisp juicy flavor. This apple is low on acid and big on sweetness. Envy apples are succinctly named for its envy-inducing perfect blend of crunch, aroma and taste. With so many varieties out there, let’s not forget about the classics. Sharp pricing on Red Delicious, Honeycrisp and Fuji.

Pears are winding down. We still have Bosc, D’Anjou and Red D’Anjou in relatively good supply. Local Bartlett pears from Lake County, California are ending soon. Get them before they are gone!

Avocado

Hass avocado from Mexico are in good supply, with large sizes less plentiful than mid-sizes. We have Fair Trade certified fruit. Ask your Account Manager if you want other sizes in Fair Trade Hass. Currently we are focused on 60 count 2-layer. California-grown Zutano and Bacon have started harvest and should be available for the next month, although somewhat limited in supply. California Hass won’t be available until February or March, at the earliest.

Berry

Strawberry supply from Northern California regions is very limited. Recent rain will likely bring the season to an end.  Chilean blueberries are steady. Raspberry supply is expected to increase in December. Mexican blackberry supply is increasing; prices are coming down. Cranberry is readily available in cello bags, and bulk packs.

Citrus

Early Valencia from Mexico have started. Expect lighter color and less juice than end of season Valencias from California. Navels continue to improve in volume as more growers come on. We should see some of the Lou Lou variety from Deer Creek Heights Ranch (sold under the popular Buck Brand label) in a week or so. Lisle, the owner of the ranch named this navel variety after his wife, Mary Lou!  Cara Cara Navels are delayed until the first week of December. Grapefruit is readily available with sharp pricing. Pomelos have arrived! This unique citrus is much larger than grapefruit but the flavor is similar–sweet and mild and without the bitterness. The thick rind is sometimes made into marmalade, candied and even dipped in chocolate. More and more growers on coming with Meyer lemons. It’s the season for tangerine gift boxes! We’re offering 5-pound straight pack gift boxes of Satsuma tangerines. These boxes are festive and beautifully decorated for store displays.

Date

As we roll into the holidays, dates are the perfect treat to satisfy a sweet tooth without feeling too indulgent. Dates are the edible fruit of the date palm tree. We have a wide selection of dates and date products.  Medjool dates are prized for their large size, extraordinary sweetness and chewy texture. Deglet dates are firmer and less sweet than the Medjool variety. Coco Rolls are ground dates rolled in dried coconut threads (yum!) Looking for a little crunch? Pecan Nuggets are rolled in chopped pecans and Almond Nuggets are rolled in chopped almonds. Did you know we also offer date paste? This is a great item for food processors and bakeries.

Fig

Unusual warmer weather at this time of year has extended fig season (lucky for us!) We’re seeing small amounts of Brown Turkey figs available. Grab these before they’re gone for good!

Grape

Red seedless grapes are very limited and prices are up. Green seedless are extremely limited. Black seedless are done for the season.

Persimmon

Fuyu persimmons are plentiful. Volume-fill packs are available at sharp pricing. This variety is great for eating when fresh and firm (including the skin.) Hachiyas are steady. To be eaten fresh, Hachiya must be soft and plump—otherwise they will be unbearably astringent. However, it is this quality that makes this variety perfect for hoshigaki. Hoshigaki are persimmons that are peeled and dried whole over several weeks through a combination of hanging and delicate hand-massaging until the sugars of the fruit form a delicate surface with a dusting that looks like frost. Hoshigaki are tender and moist with concentrated persimmon flavor. The labor intensive and unique method is traditional to Japan.

Pomegranate

Pomegranates are readily available. 30 count and 36 count are steady. 40 and 42 count fruit are gapping in supply. Larger fruit is available but more expensive.

Specialty Fruit

Aloe vera prices are up slightly due to increased labor costs. Cherimoya is gapping in supply but should be available in a week or two. And not a moment too soon—we can’t get enough of the creamy tropical fruit with that tastes of banana, pineapple, papaya and peach. Smatterings of Dragon fruit and passionfruit are continuing to be available, dependent on weather.

 

 

Nuts

There’s nothing nuttier than customers clamoring for roasted nuts during the winter months. Be prepared and check our inventory of tasty nuts! Jumbo chestnuts from Heath Ranch are available in 5-pound mesh bags.  Almonds are available every which way: roasted, roasted and salted, or shelled non-pariel. Walnuts and assorted nut mixes round out the selection. Check our list often more new offerings.

 

Vegetables

Artichoke

Artichokes are plentiful in most sizes and tasting delicious. The colder winter weather brings out flavorful “frost kissed” artichokes. Frost causes the outer layer of artichokes to blister, eventually turning it brown. Beneath the layer, the artichoke is the same familiar green color but with a concentrated and intense nutty flavor.

Asparagus

Asparagus prices are going up as supply tightens. Green tips and purple tips are limited.

Broccoli/Cauliflower

Broccoli supply is abundant as growers work on transitioning from Salinas to desert growing regions. Prices are sharp and should remain steady until all product moves to the desert. White cauliflower has strong volume and prices are attractive on all pack types. Graffiti (purple) is also readily available. Cheddar (orange) is available but not as plentiful.

Cabbage

Green, red, Napa and Savoy cabbage are all steady in supply. We love the mild taste of Napa cabbage. It is versatile enough for any number of winter dishes. Enjoy raw as a wrap or throw in stir fries, soups, slaws or try your hand at preserving by making kimchi.

Carrot

Juice carrot supply remains tight. Jumbo carrots are still gapping. Rainbow bulk and bunched carrots are in good supply and steady.

Celery

Celery has strong volume and sharp pricing. This is a great item to keep stocked and on promotion through the winter season when soups and stews are on popular on menus. Everyone has a need for celery! Talk to your Account Manager about pallet deals.

Cucumber

The market for Persian cucumbers has improved and bulk supply is now readily available. Slicer cukes’ are steady. English Hothouse prices remain low.

Garlic and Ginger

Garlic is a frequent item on winter shopping lists. Expect steady shopper demand as we head towards the holiday season. Fortunately, garlic has strong availability and should have no problem keeping up with demand. Garlic contains allicin, a powerful antibacterial only present after garlic is crushed and before it is heated. Adding fresh garlic to food, tea or consuming raw may help fight off those pesky winter colds.  Ginger prices are low and steady but don’t expect this to last. Hawaiian grown turmeric is flying off the shelves. Turmeric is known for its beneficial anti-inflammatory properties. As health continues to be a trend among consumers this year and into next, make sure your turmeric is always stocked! Supply should continue through January.

Greens, Lettuce & Herbs

Growers are still in the process of transitioning their fields from the coastal and Salinas Valley regions to the desert regions of California and Arizona. Although the transition period can bring challenges in availability and quality, we expect to be in good supply through our diverse mix of suppliers. Spring mix and baby kales have excellent low pricing. Bunched kale and chards are steady and available. Romaine lettuce has good volume. Red Butter supply is spotty. Little Gems should be available until the first frost.

Although Thanksgiving is over, holiday dinners and parties will continue well through the end of the year. Make sure you’re stocked on 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, mushrooms, and side dishes. Oregano is gapping due to poor quality.

Mushroom

Mushrooms are the new meat! Include chopped mushrooms in burgers, sauces, soups or anything that needs to be beefed up with earthy flavor. Supply is steady on most classic ‘shrooms: Crimini, Portabella, White, Shiitake, Beech and Oyster.  Specialty wild varieties like Maitake and Trumpet Royale are more limited so talk to your Account Manager early! Trumpets are a staff favorite for their delicate flavor and meaty texture.

Pea

There is some supply of California snap peas available but at high prices. Mexico snaps are becoming more regular in supply. Mexico snow peas have come on and English peas are very close to starting up.

Pepper

Green and red bell peppers are plentiful. Orange bells are still limited and hard to come by. Both California and Mexico chilies are available and priced accordingly. Mini sweet peppers supply has improved and is steady.

Squash

Zucchini supply and prices are holding steady with mostly Mexico product. California growers are winding down for the season. Plenty of hard squash on hand. We have an impressive list with something for everyone. Our favorites Green Kabocha and Blue Kabocha offer sweet, nutty flavor with the smooth texture of sweet potato or pumpkin. Butternut is readily available in multiple sizes. Goldetti is an orange spaghetti squash with beautiful color and sharp pricing. Promotable pricing on #2 quality Spaghetti—a great option for food service or processing. Check with your Account Manager about great deals on Jester squash, a variety similar to Delicata.

Sweet Potato

With sweet potatoes on every holiday table, take this opportunity to introduce customers to varieties that they may not be familiar with. Purple Stokes have vibrant skin and flesh that adds a pop of color to standard potato dishes. Japanese Sweets offer sweet flavor and flesh that turns golden when cooked. Hannah Sweets are less sweet with a dry texture that is great for mashing. Prices are competitive and supply is ample. Time to up your sweet potato game!

Tomato

With Mexico’s growing season underway, the tomato market has improved overall. One and two-layer are readily available. Tomatoes on the vine has strong volume and promotable pricing. Romas are in better supply than previous weeks but not yet normalized. Cherry tomatoes supply has improved on all varieties and prices are down. Sweet grape tomatoes sold in compostable fiber baskets are gapping. #2 quality beefsteak tomatoes from Wholesum Harvest are now available. The quality is strong and great for processors, delis and restaurants.

 

Dried Fruit

Don’t be the fruitcake without organic dried fruit on your shelves this holiday season. Check our delicious selection of dried jujube, dried persimmon from Biodynamic producer Beck Grove, and dried pitted prunes. Sweet, delicious Biodynamic Thompson raisins from Marian Farms are a staff favorite. The raisins are lightly sprayed with certified organic safflower oil to prevent clumping and makes for easy pouring and scooping. Sundried tomatoes have sweet, concentrated tomato flavor that easily makes it a stand -alone snack or addition to salads, pastas and more!

 

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!

In juice news, Columbia Gorge orange juice will now only be available in gallon jugs. Other varieties including lime, lemon, and grapefruit are still available in half gallon jugs.

 

Floral

Due to wet winter conditions, Thomas Farm is done with all fresh flowers until tulips come on in December. Dried bouquets and dried wreaths from Full Belly Farm are still readily available. 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

Don’t Forget the Mushrooms!

With the cooler weather upon us and the abundance of the crops it brings, our attention often turns to warm hearty foods. It’s time for roasting vegetables and making soups. You will find no shortage of winter squash, leeks, potatoes, root vegetables and greens right now but don’t forget the mushrooms! There are a wide variety of cultivated and wild mushrooms out there will complement any dish you have in mind. They are packed with vitamins and minerals and also naturally contain vitamin D. To store, refrigerate in a paper bag with the top folded over; do not wrap in plastic wrap or store in an airtight container. Washing mushrooms is usually not necessary. If you must rinse them, do it lightly, then dry them immediately—and gently—with paper towels. Never soak fresh mushrooms in water, which will cause them to become soggy. This method works for all mushrooms except morels

Crimini and Portabella: Botanically there is no difference. Crimini is smaller and considered more desirable due to the tight closed caps. These can be prepared whole chopped or sliced. Portabellas need a little prep before cooking. Portabella are the more mature stage of the agaricus bisporus mushroom. The cap is completely open and the gills are exposed. Remove the stem the gills before cooking. The gills will leak black liquid if not scraped off. You can do that easily with a spoon. Now your caps are ready to be sliced or stuffed. Crimini and Portabella also are mild in flavor but offer a meatier texture. These varieties are great for just about any use but are especially good blended in to cream sauces are added to soup stocks

Oyster Mushrooms: Oyster are naturally a tree dwelling mushroom but are now also widely cultivated and sold almost everywhere. When cooking with oysters, remove the lower half of the stem from the cap, or scallop at it is called on the oyster mushroom. If you are cooking with wild oysters be sure to flush the gills of the mushroom gently to make sure they are insect free. Oyster mushrooms have a soft delicate flavor and texture. Sauté with a little butter and garlic and they will go well with everything! Not only are oysters a fantastic gourmet mushroom, they are also used medicinally because of their high level of statins. Oysters mushrooms are also currently the focus of a study in environmental clean-up. They show much promise in their ability to absorb toxins like mercury from the ground. This mushroom sounds like some sort of super hero! It eats. It treats. It restores.

Shiitake: This vitamin B packed mushroom is chewy and intense compared to most other common varieties. Shiitakes are most commonly used in Asian cooking but they are also very versatile and pair well with just about any dish. To prepare the shiitake before cooking, wipe down or rinse then remove the whole stem at the cap. Shiitake stems tend to be too tough and fibrous to consume. Shiitakes are all around amazing. They’re delicious and are loaded with beneficial nutrients. They also contain all 8 essential amino acids so these are definitely mushrooms that you should be eating more often. Shiitake mushrooms are great for roasting and pair well with potatoes, greens and meats. Just remember to remove their tough stems.

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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