Author Archives: Veritable Vegetable

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!

Summer Merchandising Tips

As the seasons change, your produce displays should also change to highlight seasonal fruits and maximize your produce sales. Berries and stone fruit are customer favorites that are ideal for building larger displays. Although the concern of losing product to a display is warranted, with careful planning, you can have a successful display with minimal product loss. By having a large variety to choose, customers are encouraged customers to shop and make larger purchases.

As much as we all love stone fruit it can be a bit tricky to display due to the fact that it is easily damaged. When purchasing and displaying stone fruit remember these tips:

  • Look for under ripe fruit. In a few days the under ripe fruit ripens up nicely and with full flavor.
  • Daily rotation and culling. Have a system that allows you to provide various stages of ripeness for your customers.
  • Stage your fruit. Depending on the volume of product you move daily, consider staging product so there is always ripe fruit to top off your display. Firm unripe fruit can be stacked two layers deep and topped with a third more ripe layer. This allows customers to choose ready to eat fruit or less ripe fruit to be eaten in a few days.
  • Wider rather than taller. Since the fruit is more fragile and cannot be stacked as high, consider building wider or floor stacking empty boxes to showcase more product since the fruit it too fragile to be piled high.
  • Keep toppers on hand. Keep a few cases of ready to eat or softer fruit as “toppers” for your display so you can keep the display filled throughout the day when it gets shopped down. This allows you to keep your layers of greener fruit on the bottom and the softer fruit easily assessable on the top of the display for your customers.

Whether you choose open pint berries or clam shells, building bigger displays of berries is actually easy to achieve and maintain. Here are some strategies to boost your berry sales this summer:

  • Location is important. Build your berry display front and center of your produce department. This way you can capture the people who tend to see first and buy first. Studies also show the visual appeal of berries helps put shoppers in a pleasant state of mind and they are more likely buy additional fresh items.
  • Build it and they will come. When customers see more product, they are more likely to shop and buy more. Aim for tall stacks that gets the berries closer to eye and nose level.
  • Take the wobble out. An unstable stack can lead to spills and product lost. Avoid this by building a stable display. Stack the flats on top of each other. This will allow you to make attractive large displays without damaging open pint berries or having wobbling unstable stacks of clamshells. Flats can also be stacked on table tops to build your endcap displays.
  • Cross-merchandise. Berries can be cross promoted with many different meals, holidays and occasions. Remind shoppers just how versatile berries are by displaying other products near or better yet, on your berry display. Consider whipped cream, baked items, chocolate, wine, salad toppings, plastic containers and more!

Once you draw attention to quick moving seasonal stars like berries and stone fruit, they will practically sell themselves. With a little display planning savvy and the willingness to maintain your displays, your produce department will be optimizing sales in no time.

 

Cherry On Top

It doesn’t get any better than when fresh cherries are in season. The sweet and juicy fruit is a bright reminder than summer is just around the corner. A cherry is the fruit of the plants of the genus Prunus. It is considered a drupe or stone fruit since it contains a pit. It is believed that the Romans discovered cherries in Asia around 70 B.C. They were then introduced to Britain in the first century AD and later brought to North America in New York around 1639.

There are many species of cherries but the two most commonly eaten are the sweet cherry and sour cherry. The U.S. is the second leading producer of cherries in the world after Turkey. Sweet cherries are primarily grown in California, Washington, and Oregon. Organic sour cherries are mainly grown in Michigan and Utah while some conventional sour cherries are also grown in Washington.

Cherries are chock-full of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties. Many health benefits are attributed to them, including stabilizing blood sugar, easing joint pain, protecting against cancers and heart disease, and even acting as a natural sleep aid thanks to the high levels of melatonin.

Cherries have a very short season and require ideal cold temperatures at night to set properly. Coral Champagne and Royal Lynn are the first varieties of the California season to come on. Look for more varieties to come, but don’t wait to enjoy this precious fruit!

Keep a lookout for our staff picks noted in orange.

 

Fruit

Apple and Pear

Pink Lady is ending soon. Supply is becoming more limited and prices are up. Fuji prices are also increasing as Washington supply tightens. California grown Fuji are still available from Cuyama Orchards, but supply is winding down. Gala are still available but will finish soon. Washington Granny Smith are winding down but import fruit is on its way. We do not anticipate any gaps in supply.

The last of Red Bartlett and Durondeau are here now. Autumn Bartletts are steady. Abate Fetel are readily available. Look for Red Anjou in the next week!

Berry

Raspberry supply is very limited. Blackberry supply from Mexico has bounced back while local California grown blackberries are slowly starting. Production is expected to be limited at first, but availability should improve throughout the month. Blueberry production from California’s Central Valley should be picking up. Growers have also begun to offer pint packs. Cool weather has kept local strawberry supply from surging but production remains steady and plentiful.

Citrus

The Valencia market is steady as we continue with fruit from California and Mexico. Navels from Buck Brand are ending this week. Be sure to get some before they are gone. Ruby grapefruit from B&J Ranch is winding down. Prices are up as supply tightens. Large size lemons are peaking and we’re seeing promotable prices on larger fruit. Limes are seeing the opposite trend. Larger size fruit is limited while pricing on smaller fruit is readily available. Look for sharper pricing on 230 count fruit. Golden Nuggets are still going but quite a few growers have ended. Look for more Golden Nuggets from Shore Packing next week!

Fig

Figs are expected to come on mid-June. The first shot will be small with availability lasting a few weeks before a gap until August.

Grape

Red seedless Flame grapes from California’s Coachella Valley are expected to arrive on May 22nd. Supply will be light for the first week but should pick up soon after as more growers come on.

Melon

We’re seeing strong volume on mini seedless watermelon and seedless watermelon. Let your Account Manager know if you’re interested in bins of the full-size fruit! Prices are coming down on Harper melons as more growers come on. We love the complex, sweet floral flavor on this specialty melon. Cantaloupe is steady and some of the best tasting out there. The Honeydew market is steady after experiencing high prices at the start of the season. Orange Honeydew, a cross between a Cantaloupe and Honeydew is readily available. This hybrid variety has smooth yellow skin and orange flesh with all the sweetness and creaminess of regular Honeydew but with more complex flavor and amazing aroma.

Stone fruit

Cherry season has started! We should see some early varieties like Coral Champagne and Royal Lynn and then a possible gap for a week. After the predicted gap, prices will most likely come down but the California crop is expected to be very short this year. Many growers were impacted by a freeze or late rain. Prices may remain strong until Washington starts their harvest at the end of June.

Apriums (a cross between apricot and plum) have started from California! Apricots are a week or so out as early production reports show green shoulders, indicating the fruit needs more time to ripen. Yellow nectarines should be close behind. Yellow peaches are starting soon with the May Princess variety.

 

Vegetables

Artichoke

Artichokes have strong volume. All sizes are available with sharp pricing.

Bean

Mexico grown green beans are becoming steadier. California green beans from the Coachella region has come on. Product is expected to be very tight at the start of the season.

Broccoli/Cauliflower

Cooler weather in Watsonville and Salinas has slowed broccoli and cauliflower production. Low harvest numbers have caused local supply to tighten.

Cabbage

Red cabbage remains very limited and prices remain high. Green cabbage supply has been steady with no gaps but prices have been inching up since the end of April. Napa cabbage has been in good supply. Savoy it a bit more limited.

Celery

Celery supply remains tight and prices are high on Mexico grown product. No domestic celery is available at this time. California production is not expected to start in a meaningful way until late May at the earliest.

Corn

Mexico grown yellow corn has started! California bi-color corn will also be coming on soon.

Cucumber

Slicer cucumber is readily available with sharp prices. European cucumber prices are a up a bit but plentiful in supply. Persians are also in good supply.

Eggplant

California globe eggplant is starting from the Coachella Valley. Mexico grown globes are steady; prices are high.

Greens, Lettuce & Herbs

Boxed greens appear to be steady in supply and quality. Green kale is readily available. Leaf lettuces, romaine and red romaine are in good supply. Cilantro supply is increasing. Other herbs have strong quality and supply. Thai basil and lavender are available.

We are closely following the E.coli outbreak associated with romaine lettuce from the Yuma, Arizona growing region. Our romaine lettuce is sourced from local California growers and not from Yuma, Arizona. We can confirm this for whole heads of romaine, chopped romaine and romaine salad mixes.

Onion

Mexico grown yellow onions are winding down. California yellow and sweets should be coming on mid-May with reds not far behind. These onions will be new crop and the short-day variety which has less cure and more delicate skins.  Intermediate varieties will come on in June from the Central Valley followed by long day varieties in August, out of Nevada. California white onions are still a couple weeks out. Shallots are gapping until June or July.

Pea

California snap peas have come on full force and are readily available. California English peas are starting but is expected to be limited. Mexico product will continue to be available to supplement supply. Snow peas are experiencing a gap in supply.

Pepper

Prices are coming down on orange and yellow bell peppers. Red bell prices are steady. Green bells from California are available but prices remain high. Jalapenos and hot peppers are still limited and should be in better supply in June.

Potato

Russet potatoes are expected to continue through the end of the month. Russian Banana fingerlings are done for the season. All other varieties on fingerlings are expected to be available for another two weeks. Check out Purple Majesty potatoes for a healthy dose of antioxidants. We love the beautiful satiny purple skin and flesh. These make stunning chips or fries! Be sure to add a dash of vinegar to ensure the color stays rich and deep.

Root

Parsnip is steady. Rutabaga and purple top turnips are still going. We may see burdock in a few weeks.

Squash

The zucchini market has been very tight but should hopefully improve as more California product comes on. California Crookneck squash is readily available and looking great. California Straight neck squash has also started. Acorn and Spaghetti squash are plentiful. Butternut is a bit more limited due to a smaller than expected initial harvest. Delicata is also limited. Kabocha is steady.

Tomato

California heirlooms are limited and straight packs are not currently available. Mexican mixed pack heirlooms are steady. One and two-layer slicer tomatoes, tomatoes-on-vine and Romas are steady.

 

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.

Dutch Iris and Sunflower straight pack bouquets are now available from Thomas Family Farm. Fun Fact: Dutch Iris are actually a cross of Mediterranean Iris varieties. This seasonal beauty is a popular spring favorite for its dramatic orchid-like appearance and longevity.  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

As the seasons change, your produce displays should also change to highlight seasonal fruits and maximize your produce sales. Berries and stone fruit are customer favorites that are ideal for building larger displays. Although the concern of losing product to a display is warranted, with careful planning, you can have a successful display with minimal product loss. By having a large variety to choose, customers are encouraged customers to shop and make larger purchases.

As much as we all love stone fruit it can be a bit tricky to display due to the fact that it is easily damaged. When purchasing and displaying stone fruit remember these tips:

  • Look for under ripe fruit. In a few days the under ripe fruit ripens up nicely and with full flavor.
  • Daily rotation and culling. Have a system that allows you to provide various stages of ripeness for your customers.
  • Stage your fruit. Depending on the volume of product you move daily, consider staging product so there is always ripe fruit to top off your display. Firm unripe fruit can be stacked two layers deep and topped with a third more ripe layer. This allows customers to choose ready to eat fruit or less ripe fruit to be eaten in a few days.
  • Wider rather than taller. Since the fruit is more fragile and cannot be stacked as high, consider building wider or floor stacking empty boxes to showcase more product since the fruit it too fragile to be piled high.
  • Keep toppers on hand. Keep a few cases of ready to eat or softer fruit as “toppers” for your display so you can keep the display filled throughout the day when it gets shopped down. This allows you to keep your layers of greener fruit on the bottom and the softer fruit easily assessable on the top of the display for your customers.

Whether you choose open pint berries or clamshells, building bigger displays of berries is actually easy to achieve and maintain. Here are some strategies to boost your berry sales this summer:

  • Location is important. Build your berry display front and center of your produce department. This way you can capture the people who tend to see first and buy first. Studies also show the visual appeal of berries helps put shoppers in a pleasant state of mind and they are more likely buy additional fresh items.
  • Build it and they will come. When customers see more product, they are more likely to shop and buy more. Aim for tall stacks that gets the berries closer to eye and nose level.
  • Take the wobble out. An unstable stack can lead to spills and product lost. Avoid this by building a stable display. Stack the flats on top of each other. This will allow you to make attractive large displays without damaging open pint berries or having wobbling unstable stacks of clamshells. Flats can also be stacked on table tops to build your endcap displays.
  • Cross-merchandise. Berries can be cross promoted with many different meals, holidays and occasions. Remind shoppers just how versatile berries are by displaying other products near or better yet, on your berry display. Consider whipped cream, baked items, chocolate, wine, salad toppings, plastic containers and more!

 

Once you draw attention to quick moving seasonal stars like berries and stone fruit, they will practically sell themselves. With a little display planning savvy and the willingness to maintain your displays, your produce department will be optimizing sales in no time.

One Avocado, Two Avocado, Three Avocado….Floor!

Ah, Cinco de Mayo. It may seem like a small holiday but it’s the small holidays like these that can be a hit or miss for your department sales. Since Cinco de Mayo falls on a Saturday this year, it is likely to be even more popular. Here are four key items that will ensure you maximize sales potential.

  • Ripe avocados. Having an ample supply of stand ready ripe avocados takes planning but it’s easy to do. Customers shopping for avocados close to Cinco de Mayo are looking for ready to eat product or fruit that will be perfect in a day or two. This means you need to bring in avocados a least 3-4 days before May 5th. Bring a few cases and store them in your backstock area to allow them to ripen up. Use these ripe avocados to build an impressive display on the 4th. If you are a larger store that always has a rather large avocado display, order up and keep your display topped off with ripe fruit regularly to boost your sales. Most customers aren’t willing to take the time to ripen their own fruit so making sure you have ripe fruit on hand ensure you always capture that sale.
  • Don’t forget the limes! Limes are not only an essential ingredient in guacamole, salsa and for squeezing on delicious tacos but they are also a necessity for festive drinks. Display limes in close proximity to your avocados and also with your strawberries (strawberries for strawberry margaritas, of course!). Having multiple locations for key items increases visibility and helps boost sales.
  • Tacos, tacos, tacos. Although there are many other dishes that will be made, the street taco is an easy favorite and one that is easiest to merchandise for. Cabbage, cilantro, onion and limes are all key items. Make sure your cabbage display is large and highly visible. Cull and butt the cabbages making sure that all outer leaves that maybe withered are discarded. If the produce is looking it’s best, it will move quickly. Cilantro can be stocked next to cabbage in the wet rack as well as placed in containers of water and placed next to your onions. This encourages the sale of both items when ingredients are displayed in close proximity and in multiple locations. Your dry displays are also the perfect places to cross merchandise packs of tortillas to promote your fresh taco ingredients.
  • Large focal point cross merchandising display. Work with other departments to create a display that combines all of the big key items like chips, beer, tomatoes, avocados, dry pack dip mixes, onions and drink mixers. Make sure the display is in a highly visible area like the front of the store. This gets shoppers excited and strategically suggests multiple products to purchase in combination. This is a great opportunity to encourage impulse buys and bump up your average basket size.

Purple Everything

Purple vegetables have been around for a long time, some naturally and some selectively bred slowly over time to be more colorful. With the spring season here, vibrant purple veggies are popping up everywhere.

In addition to their striking color, purple vegetables usually contain higher amounts of antioxidants. A type of antioxidant called anthocyanins gives plants their vibrant color. Anthocyanins protect purple vegetables from sun damage and cold temperatures, and also attract bees and other pollinators. Similarly, when you consume vegetables with this antioxidant, it can offer a wide range of health-promoting benefits such as reducing inflammation and increasing brain and heart health. Some purple vegetables have more health benefits compared to the same vegetable in other colors.

The taste of purple vegetables is similar to their non-purple counterparts, but there are definitely slight nuances in flavor. When cooked, some purple vegetables lose their color. Check out our wide variety of purple veggies including: artichoke, asparagus, carrots, red cabbage, cauliflower, eggplant, daikon, garlic, kale, red onion, purple majesty potato, and stokes sweet potato. Liven up your palate with a healthy dose of purple today!

Keep a lookout for our staff picks noted in orange.

 

Fruit

Apple and Pear

Fuji apple is in good supply and expected to last through the end of May or beginning of June. Granny Smith and Pink Lady are winding down. Prices are going up as supply dwindles. Cameo are done for the season.

Red Bartlett and Bartlett remain steady. Abate Fetel has good volume. We love the rich sweetness and creamy texture of this pear. Look for Packham coming soon!

Avocado

Hass avocados are tasting great right now and will only get richer as the summer approaches. Supply is strong with attractive pricing and volume deals available as we inch closer to Cinco de Mayo. Be sure to build up your display and stock up for what will likely be a high-demand weekend. We’re especially fond of fruit from Las Palmalitas Ranch, a grower located near Carpinteria, on California’s central coast. Las Palmalitas has been owned by the same family for over 150 years and is currently managed by Will and Billy Carleton. The father-and-son team manages 20 acres of avocados while other family members have 50 acres on adjoining property. All the fruit is packed on site, which gives them full quality control.

Berry

Local strawberries have come on in full force, although cooler weather is causing supply to tighten slightly. Overall, the market is steady with fruit from Southern California available to supplement. Blueberries from Homegrown Organics are a staff favorite. Their spring variety is grown on California’s central coast near Santa Barbara, resulting in plump, sweet and firm berries—perfect for eating fresh! Raspberry and blackberries continue to be limited; raspberry prices are way up.

Citrus

Lemon prices are starting to go up. Larger-size fruit is very promotable. Look for sharp pricing on 75 and 95 counts. 115 and 140 counts are limited. Meyer lemons are starting to wind down; prices are up. Lime prices have also come down slightly. Be sure to stock up for Cinco de Mayo! Valencia oranges remain in good supply as more California Valencia growers come on next week. B&J Ranch Ruby grapefruit is still readily available and expected to last for another three weeks. Sizing is more limited at this point in the season. Golden Nugget tangerines are steady and expected to continue through the end of May, into June. Look for a small shot of Pixies from Churchill Orchards next week! Most other specialty citrus have finished or are winding down.

Grape

Red flame seedless will be the first variety to come on from California’s Coachella Valley in mid-May. Production will be light to start, with volume picking up after Memorial Day. Expect demand to be high to start with prices to match.

Kiwi

Kiwis are starting to get a bit more limited. Prices are up and are expected to move up slowly as the season end approaches.

Mango

Ataulfo mangos are gapping and Tommy Atkins are limited. We’re getting everything we can. Smaller sizes are nowhere to be found.

Stone fruit

California peaches have started with the arrival of Amber Crest yellow peach. The flavor is sweet and tart, which is pretty ideal for early-season fruit. It’ll be a few more weeks before we see other peach varieties come on. Apricots, apriums and yellow nectarines are a couple weeks away. Volume may start slow and prices will likely be high.

 

Vegetables

Artichoke

Purple artichokes have arrived! This variety has a slightly nuttier taste than its green counterpart. Unlike other purple vegetables, purple artichoke does not lose its color when cooked.

Brussel Sprout

Brussels sprouts are limited and prices are rising sharply.

Cabbage

Red cabbage is limited while green cabbage prices are on the rise due to increased demand.

Cucumber

Slicer cucumber prices are going down. Supply appears to be steady. Bulk Persian cucumbers are gapping but clamshells are more readily available. We’re seeing sharp pricing on English ‘cukes. California product from JND Farms, located near Fresno, should be starting in a few weeks.

Eggplant

Globe eggplant is in steadier supply. Prices are still high and expected to continue to go up. Specialty eggplant are also in better supply.

Greens, Lettuce & Herbs

The transition for boxed greens is pretty much done so supply should be good for all items. Dino and green kale have strong volume. Collards are less available. Romaine and Little Gem are plentiful. All herbs are plentiful including local supply of cilantro and basil.

We are aware and closely following the E.Coli O157:H7 outbreak associated with romaine lettuce from the Yuma, Arizona growing region. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is continuing their investigation and has not identified a common grower, supplier, distributor or brand. At this time, we are not selling any type of romaine lettuce sourced from this region and are not planning to do so until the CDC has issued a public health notice that the outbreak is over. Our romaine lettuce is sourced from local California growers. We can confirm this for whole heads of romaine, chopped romaine and romaine salad mixes.

Mushroom

We’re seeing sharp pricing on shiitake mushroom from Oregon grower, Top Hat Mushrooms. This third-generation family farm is based in Scio, Oregon, on the western foothills of the Cascade Mountains. They have been producing high quality shiitake mushrooms while maintaining their commitment to sustainable agriculture since 1991. Learn more about the shiitake mushroom process and watch this 3.5 minute video from Top Hat.

In other mushroom news, Monterey Mushroom cello products, including Crimini 12×8 ounce, White 12×6 ounce and Portabella 8×2 ounce are arriving in a new recycled black plastic material, called rPET. rPET stands for recycled polyethylene terephthalate and comes from plastic that has already been used for packaging, such as plastic bottles. This plastic is sorted, cleaned and transformed so that it can be reused as a food product, as approved by the FDA. The container is 100% recyclable, the over-wrap film holds on better and provides a better contrast of color between the packaging and the mushrooms. There is no change in the shelf life of the product as compared to paperboard till.

Onion

The most challenging part of the season is behind us now. With both domestic and import onions available, supply is steady on yellow, red and white. Shallots are winding down so grab them while you can!

Pea

As we hit the throes of Spring, the pea market is steadily improving. California snap peas are coming on. English peas and snow peas are in good supply from Mexico; quality is high.

Pepper

The pepper market is tight and prices are up all around. Were seeing the first offering of California green bell pepper from the Coachella region. Orange and yellow bells are in better supply. Red bells are more abundant but prices are still high. Anaheim and Serrano chili peppers are steady. Poblanos are gapping. Jalapenos are limited.

Root

Parsnip will continue for a few more weeks. Turnips are still available. Jicama is readily available in both medium and large sizes. We love the sweet taste and crisp texture of this versatile veggie.

Squash

California zucchini has started and is in good supply. Yellow squash prices are up. Acorn, Kabocha, and Spaghetti are readily available. Butternut availability has improved and now has better volume. Delicata will be limited until the California season starts up again.

Tomato

Roma prices have jumped up and supply is tight. Sweet grape cherry tomatoes in compostable fiber baskets are steady. Check out honey bunch yellow cherry tomatoes! They are juicy with a nice pop of color. Tomato-on-vine has good availability; prices are coming down. Heirlooms are continuing steadily with some small gaps in California supply due to volatile weather.

 

Floral

The deadline for Thomas Farm orders delivering between May 9th—16th for the Mother’s Day holiday on Sunday, May 13th has now passed. However, Full Belly is still offering mixed bouquets to deliver between Thursday, May 10th and Tuesday, May 15th. Make sure to reach out by 4pm on Tuesday, May 1st if you want to stock up for this major floral holiday!

The Thomas Family Farm Dutch Iris bouquets have begun and the fields are ready for the picking! 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.

At Full Belly Farm, a little of everything is mixed into their large mixed bouquets. Expect to find about 12 to 15 stems per bunch of such beauties as Bells of Ireland, Delphinium, Snap Dragon, Bachelor Button, Agrostemma, and Calendula flowers. Ranunculus and Anemome are done for the season. Next, keep an eye out for Godetias coming soon!

 

Merchandising Corner

Spring Cleaning

Shoppers respond to a clean, well-stocked department and reflect that appreciation by having fuller shopping carts. A clean department (sales floor and backroom) also protects the quality of the produce by preventing bacteria growth on storage/display racks and cases. Reducing bacteria reduces product loss/shrink.

Simple steps to take include:

  • Set up a cleaning schedule and use a log to verify the schedule is maintained. A sample Cleaning Schedule is available electronically at veritablevegetable.com in the Customer Toolbox.
  • Carry a rag at all times and clean as you work in the department.
  • Clean mirrors on the wet rack with a mild vinegar solution (1 part water to 1 part vinegar) to prevent lime buildup without the use of caustic chemicals.
  • Sweep and mop floors once or twice each day.
    • Be alert to water on the floor from ice in the wet rack, ricochet from the sprayer hose and spills.
    • Utilize “Caution: Wet Floor” signs to warn shoppers of a potential hazard.
  • Keep a close eye on sample displays as they create waste. Frequently wipe display domes to eliminate fingerprints.
  • Don’t let produce boxes accumulate. Break down all but one or two boxes, which can be used for culling and rotating product. Carry boxes to dumpster or recycle bin safely and easily by placing all flattened boxes inside one of the saved boxes.