Author Archives: Veritable Vegetable

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.

Stone Fruit Extravaganza

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Keep a lookout for our staff picks noted in orange.

 

Fruit

Apple and Pear

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

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

Avocado

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

Berry

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

Citrus

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

Fig

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

Grape

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

Mango

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

Melon

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

Stone fruit

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

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

 

Vegetables

Bean

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

Broccoli/Cauliflower

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

Cabbage

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

Celery

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

Cucumber

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

Eggplant

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

Greens, Lettuce & Herbs

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

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

Pea

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

Pepper

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

Potato

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

Squash

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

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

Tomato

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

 

 

Floral

Full Belly Farm’s large mixed bouquets offer a little of everything that is being harvested right now. Expect to find about 12 to 15 stems per bunch of seasonal varieties including Baby’s Breath, Bells of Ireland, Black-Eyed Susan, Calendula, Canterbury Bells, Coreopsis, Cosmos, Lavender, Queen Anne’s Lace, Shasta Daisies, Snapdragons, Spring Wheat, Statice, Sunflowers, and Zinnias.

Sunflower straight-pack bouquets are now available from Thomas Family Farm. Look for Dahlias coming soon!  In the Thomas Farm mixed bouquets, you will see many if not all of the following varieties: Sunflower, Iris, Godetia, Protea, Saponaria, Snapdragon, and Sweet William. These bouquets come in varying sizes: Cutie, Seasonal, and Large Holiday.

 

 

Merchandising Corner

Merchandising 101

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

Successful produce displays share these characteristics:

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

Props

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

Swing Warehouser

Swing Warehousers work with team members on the Swing 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 Warehouse Supervisor and takes direction from Warehouse Team Leads.

Friday – Tuesday 2:00 PM – 10:30 PM

(WED/THURS WEEKEND)

Primary Job 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

Hello, Honeydew

With summer just around the corner, it’s time to get excited for melons! Although often overlooked next to summer’s more vibrant melons, honeydew—particularly ripe honeydew during peak season–is glorious!

A ripe honeydew bursts with floral sweetness, dripping with juices that taste very much like honey. Its pale green rind surrounds similarly pale green flesh and white seeds.

Honeydew is the American name for the White Antibes, a variety of melon that was cultivated in southern France and Algeria centuries ago. It is popular in Chinese culture and is known as the Bailan melon. Honeydew and other melons are part of the cucurbitaceae (gourd) family, which is divided into fruits (melons) and vegetables (squashes, pumpkins, and cucumbers).

When selecting a honeydew, look for one that feels heavy for its size and has a waxy, not fuzzy, rind. The surface should bounce back when pressed. While we prefer honeydew fresh, it can also be added to any number of sweet and savory dishes including salads, ice cream, smoothies, and more!

Keep a lookout for our staff picks noted in orange.

 

Fruit

Apple and Pear

Washington supply of Fuji, Gala, and Granny is winding down fast. Import Gala, Braeburn, and Fujis have started up.  Domestic Pink Lady are done but we have a small shot of Cripps Pink cello bags and more Cripps coming at the end of May.  

Alex Lucas supply is limited. This buttery green pear is similar in appearance and texture to D’Anjou. Alex Lucas also turn a lovely yellow when ripe! These won’t last so get them before they are gone! Autumn Bartletts are in-house now. Abate Fetel and Bosc are still available. We also have Red D’Anjou available which makes a great red pear option.

Berry

Local strawberry supply is in full swing. Supply is plentiful. Blueberries and raspberries are steady.

Citrus

Many citrus growers are peaking on 63 count and 75 count lemons. Prices are promotable. Lemons are predicted to be tighter this summer. Meyer lemons prices are going up as supply tightens. Lime prices are coming down. In the past two weeks, we have seen a big price drop. Buck Brand has steady supply of finger limes. They have sharp pricing on 1-pound preorders. Ruby grapefruit from B&J Ranch is done. There is still supply from other growers; expect a price increase. Valencia oranges are readily available. The last of Golden Nugget tangerines are here now!

Grape

Domestic green Sugarone and red seedless Flame have started from California. Flames are a cross between Thompson seedless, Cardinal and several other varieties. They are sweet and crunchy with a beautiful deep-red color—perfect to kick off the grape season! Red seedless Flame and green seedless Perlette are also available from Mexico. This early-season variety is light in color—almost frosty green with a translucent cast. The berries are nearly round. Overall, the domestic grape crop will yield high numbers and should eventually make prices very competitive this season.

Kiwi

California-grown kiwi is winding down. New Zealand fruit will be in available in a couple weeks.

Melon

Mini watermelon is in good supply from Mexico. California growers will start watermelon bins and mini seedless on May 30th. We expect to have a strong watermelon season, lasting through Labor Day. The cantaloupe market is tight with limited sizes and high prices. Tightness should ease up once California growers come on this week. Several growers reported late frost having a huge impact on melon yields and are not waiting for warm weather for the crop to sugar up. In addition to cantaloupes, expect to see honeydew, orange honeydew, and Hami melons just in time for Memorial Day celebrations.

Stone fruit

Stone fruit season is off to a slow start due to cold weather. Apricots and apriums have started but remain very limited. Supply should improve as the season progresses. Early season varieties available include May Bright yellow nectarines and Polar Light white nectarines. Look for Arctic Sweet white nectarines coming soon. Best May peaches, Sauzee Queen donut peaches, and Pearl White peaches are here now. Flavorosa pluots have also started! Cherry supply is tight due to much smaller and shorter California crop this year. Chelan cherries have come on. Look for more Coral Champagne soon. Prices may remain strong until Washington starts their harvest at the end of June.

 

Vegetables

Asparagus

Asparagus prices are up; supply is tight.

Bean

California green beans have good volume which is expected to last for the next two weeks. We’re seeing very promotable pricing on fava beans.

Broccoli/Cauliflower

Cauliflower is in good supply. Product quality is high. Broccoli is in better supply than in previous weeks.

Cabbage

Red cabbage continues to be limited as it has been for a few weeks now, but supply should be improving soon. Green cabbage is steady.

Cucumber

Domestic slicers are limited; however, supply is steady with plenty of Mexican product available. Persian cukes have strong volume.

Eggplant

Prices have dropped on Mexican globe eggplant. California product is still limited. Graffiti eggplant has been tight due to quality issues.

Greens, Lettuce & Herbs

Arugula and baby spinach are a little limited. Bunched greens overall are in good supply. Green kale is plentiful as several growers have volume supply. Red and green dandelion is steady. Collards are seeing promotable pricing. Rainbow chard and fennel are readily available.

The lettuce market is steady on most varieties. J.E. Perry Farm has started with their lettuces under the Trina/Perry label. It’s been a slow start for the farm and green leaf and green butter are both limited. Romaine is starting soon with iceberg set to come on in July.

Italian parsley may be limited as two of our main growers are coming up short on their harvests. Cilantro is holding steady at sharp pricing. Bunched basil from Road Twenty Farm is starting and should come into volume in about a week.

Onion

California yellow onions have started. Mexican reds and whites are continuing; California product is a couple weeks out. Shallots are still gapping until late June or early July.

Pea

English and snap peas are readily available. Prices are sharp!

Pepper

The green pepper market is tight; both California and Mexico product are limited. Prices are going up. Orange bells, on the other hand, have strong volume. Jalapeños are coming into better supply. Poblanos and Anaheims are limited while Serranos are still gapping.

Potato

Russet potatoes are ending soon. Local specialty potatoes are starting soon. Look for lovely Red Lasodas, French fingerlings, and more!

Specialty Veg

Washington rhubarb will be available for two more weeks.

Squash

With spring comes the abundance of squash! Zucchini supply is plentiful. Prices are coming down slowly. Lots of yellow squash and other specialty varieties on hand including straightneck and crookneck.  We’re seeing beautiful mixed medley packs from Chico grower Comanche Creek.

Kabocha squash is winding down while Spaghetti is still in good supply. Butternut and Acorn are limited. Delicata is done until the California season starts up.

 

Floral

Full Belly Farm’s large mixed bouquets offer a little of everything that is being harvested right now. Expect to find about 12 to 15 stems per bunch of seasonal varieties including Spanish Iris, Calendula, Godetia (red and pink), Agrostemma, Snapdragon, Delphinium, and Bachelor Button.

Sunflower straight-pack bouquets are now available from Thomas Family Farm. Look for Dahlias coming soon!  In the Thomas Farm mixed bouquets, you will see many if not all of the following varieties: Sunflower, Iris, Godetia, Protea, Saponaria, Snap Dragon, and Sweet William. These bouquets come in varying sizes: Cutie, Seasonal, and Large Holiday.

 

Merchandising Corner

Summer Merchandising Tips

With summer fast approaching, it’s time to think about revamping or even starting up a fresh cut program to maximize your summer produce sales. Providing easy grab-and-go precut food options is a great way to boost your sales and help keep your shrink down on fragile items like grapes, berries, and stone fruit. Cut melons such as honeydew and cantaloupes filled with riper berries and fruits are a delicious and attractive quick-grab snack for customers. When working in a produce department, we all find those loose grapes, over ripe berries and bruised stone fruit everyday while stocking the displays. These items can be easily used to fill the center of hollowed-out melons.  Single-variety cut-and-wrapped melons are also easy and always popular. If you already have a well-established precut program you most likely have a source, like our Bay Cities line of precut items. or perhaps you are hand-cutting at your location. Wherever you are sourcing your product, adding seasonal fruits like berries and cherries to your pack is a great way to add some seasonal flair.

The seasonal goodies aren’t just limited to fruit. There are plenty of summer veggies you can quickly prep and add to the precut grab-and-go case. One vegetable that is quick to prep and attractive when displayed is split artichokes. Cut the top inch off of the ‘choke to remove most of the spikes, then cut lengthwise and include a half of a lemon as well. Present on a small oven-ready aluminum tray or paper tray and now these artichokes are ready for the grill or oven. There is no limit to the fresh-cut combinations you can provide for your customers to make their shopping more convenient and in turn increase your department sales.

Chopped mixed beets, sliced squash, asparagus, mixed peppers, and mushrooms are just a few. If you haven’t yet set up a fresh cut area in your department, now is definitely the time to get moving! Market trends show that customers are turning more toward convenient precut produce items and ready-made meals. Talk to your Account Manager about starting a fresh cut program today!