California cherry season is here! Cherry trees are among the first trees to bloom in early spring. Their sweet and fragrant blossoms announce a time when sweetness is returning to our lives. Due to favorable weather, this year’s crop has fruit that looks spectacular. There are two main types: the sweet cherry, Prunus avium, which is eaten right off the tree, and the tart cherry, Prunus cerasus, which is used almost exclusively for cooking.
Cherries are believed to have originated in the area between the Black and Caspian seas in Asia Minor in about 4000 BCE. They entered the Middle East by 3000 BCE; it is believed it was birds that carried cherry pits into Europe prior to human cultivation.
Cherries are full of nutrients and antioxidants including beta-carotene and quercetin which provides anti-inflammatory relief, pectin which is a cholesterol lowering soluble fiber, and impressive doses of vitamin C. As a general rule, the darker the cherry, the more intense the flavor. Yellow or straw-colored cherries tend to have a higher sugar content and less acid balance.
Order your cherries today, the delicious fruits are in high demand and the short five-week California season will be gone in a flash!
Memorial Day Merchandising
Memorial Day is the official kick-off to summer weather and eating outdoors. Everyone is looking forward to getting outside and celebrating the holiday weekend. Customers are looking for foods that are easy to take along on their outdoor adventures, BBQs and picnics. Here are some ways to prepare your stores for the upcoming Memorial Day holiday:
- Must Haves: Corn and watermelons are in high demand for Memorial Day celebrations! If you can’t accommodate a bin of full-sized watermelons, bring in cases of mini watermelons. These are great because they are smaller and easier to transport for small outdoor gatherings. Drop bins of melons outside the store if possible. Another great location is right inside the door to greet customers as they come into your store. Corn should also be displayed in high-traffic areas–just make sure to keep on ice to maintain freshness.
- Stock Up on Stone Fruit: Customers will be looking for seasonal items like cherries, peaches, nectarines, and apricots. Not only are these exciting and new, but they are also easy to transport to outdoor celebrations.
- Grill-Ready Produce: Many customers will be looking to BBQ for the holiday weekend. Build a large display for grill-ready items including spring onions, mushrooms, zucchini, pineapple, asparagus and corn.
- Berries: Although strawberries and blueberries have been around for a few months, there is never a holiday that berries are not in high demand. Make sure to have plenty on hand and cross-merchandise with shortbread cookies, pound cakes, yogurt, and whipped cream to encourage fruit-inspired dessert purchases.
- Cross-Merchandise: Bring in items like corn skewers and melon ballers to work into your produce displays. Try incorporating other picnic and BBQ-related items like reusable cloth napkins, insulated bags, cases of sparkling waters, beer, packaged dates, and nuts. Think of foods that travel well and any supplies that might be needed.
New & Exciting!:
- California-Grown Sweet Cherry*: Fruit is looking and tasting spectacular! In high demand and good supply.
- Corn*: California-grown bi-color corn is here! High-sugar and low starch content. Sweet flavor. Great in raw and cooked applications. Availability will be somewhat limited to start.
- Dreamcot Apricot*: Juicy orange flesh is smooth and tender. Tangy and sweet flavor.
- May Bright Nectarine: Availability is somewhat limited as the season begins. Shiny, dark red skin with very little freckling. Yellow fleshed clingstone. Mildly acidic and sweet in flavor.
- Melon*: Mexico-grown cantaloupe, honeydew, and watermelon all in good supply. Make sure to order up for Memorial Day celebrations and picnic themed displays!
- Pickling Cucumber*: Small and cylindrical in shape. Thin skin. Flesh is succulent and crisp—stays snappy even after canning or preserving!
- Spring Flame Peach*: In robust supply. Early freestone variety. Exterior has bright red blush over golden hued skin. Pale yellow-orange flesh is firm and juicy. Sweet and mildly acidic flavor.
- Summer Royal Grape: Mexico-grown black seedless grape starting up. Firm and crisp. Strong muscat flavor with a sweet finish.
- Blueberry: California-grown fruit in strong supply and tasting delicious!
- Globe Eggplant: California-grown in good supply. Meaty texture and large size make them perfect for grilling season. Make sure to include in a BBQ themed produce display!
- Heirloom Tomato*: In steady supply and great to use for color contrast in spring produce displays.
- Rhubarb*: “Stalk up” on beautiful rhubarb! Click below to watch Kerri Williams, Field Merchandiser at VV, show the many ways to enjoy and merchandise fresh rhubarb.
- Sugar Snap Pea*: In robust supply and tasting great!
- Zucchini: California-grown in good supply. Great to cross-merchandise with BBQ supplies and other grill-ready veggies.
- Beefsteak Tomato: Extremely limited.
- Celery: Tight in supply through the month of May as growing regions transition out of imports. High pricing.
- Cherimoya and passionfruit in short flurries, get ‘em when you can.
- Granny Smith Apple: Extremely limited. Imports are expected to come on closer to the end of May.
- Lemon: Pricing on the rise and will continue through summer as Californian fruit winds down. Meyer lemons are very limited.
- Nettle: Gapping in supply.
- White Corn: Mexico-grown gapping in supply.
Done for the Season:
- California-Grown Kiwi
- Jazz Apple
- Ume Plum