Ramadan, an annual month-long period of spiritual reflection, is approaching on April 12th this year. Dates are key to Ramadan, as Muslims fast from dawn to sunset, taking neither food nor water. Traditionally, a date is the first food to pass one’s lips after the sun goes down. Dates are also prominently featured in Eid al-Fitr, the feast that ends Ramadan.
Cultivated for 8,000 years, the origin of dates can be traced back to the Middle East. It’s said that Prophet Muhammad broke his fast with dates, and the tradition has been passed on for centuries. In addition to religious and cultural significance, dates are packed with health benefits. Dates are great for balancing blood sugar and reducing blood pressure. The sweetness in dates is an easily digestible fructose. They also contain choline—which is associated with better memory and learning!
Medjool and Deglet Noor are most familiar to those in the United States, although there are hundreds of distinct varieties worldwide. Medjool dates are a fat, maple-hued fruit that are prized for its succulent taste and very moist texture. Deglet Noor dates are a drier, smaller date often found in baked goods. Both these delicious varieties are found piled in bowls and baskets during the Ramadan holiday. Ramadan Mubarak! (Happy Ramadan!)
Spring Green Goodness
California asparagus is now here and in great supply! Abundant artichoke availability is just around the corner. These two spring favorites are great additions to spring displays- they are beautiful and do not need to be kept under refrigeration for short-term storage. It is fine to leave them out for the day or place them on an ice table. Grab your customers’ attention with these spring display ideas and tips:
- Maintain Freshness: Whether you keep your asparagus and artichokes in or out of refrigeration, check your product daily for freshness and quality. Asparagus should be succulent, crisp, and firm. Pull any stalks that look withered or soft. Artichokes should be firm when given a slight squeeze.
- Highlight Spring Items: Create an eye-catching display with asparagus and cross merchandise it with other great spring items like green garlic and spring onions. Try displaying recipes alongside all the new spring items coming on. Customers will be refreshed to see the season changing!
- Color Contrast: Lemons and artichokes always pair well and look stunning with their contrast in color. Lemons also eat well with asparagus. New crop Mexican purple garlic will be making an appearance soon. A pop of purple to any asparagus and artichoke display will look fantastic!
- Grilling Themed Displays: With the new spring weather, many people are flocking outdoors for grilling and barbecuing. Both artichokes and asparagus are popular items to throw on the grill. Items that are great to include in a grilling themed display include corn, onions, bell peppers, eggplants, and potatoes. You can cross-merchandise with any grill accessories and utensils, charcoal, or even portable grills!
Have fun, get creative, and celebrate these gifts from early spring!
New & Exciting!:
- Asparagus*: California-grown here now! Extremely sharp pricing. Make sure to feature in your produce displays, they’re the essential vegetable of the spring season! Try cross-merchandising with lemons and/or recipe ideas.
Did you know asparagus spears grow straight up from the soil? During exceptionally warm weather, asparagus can grow up to seven inches in a single day!
- Autumn Crisp Grape*: Import from Peru. Starting up the second week of April. Green seedless grape. Large, round berries with a firm and crisp-juicy texture. Mild sweet flavor has subtle hints of muscat. Great to eat out of hand!
- Red Bartlett Pear: New crop from Argentina starting up. True pyriform shape- rounded large bottom half that tapers to a smaller curved neck. Outer skin transforms from a dark maroon to a bright red as it ripens. Occasional blushing, striping, and speckling appears on skin. Flesh is ivory colored, fine-grained, and contains a few seeds. Sweet, juicy, and buttery-textured when fully ripe.
- Rhubarb: Starting up the second week of April. Stalks range in color from light pink to ruby red. Appearance and texture is similar to celery. Flavor is clean, fresh, tart and astringent. Most often cooked down with sugar for dessert applications like jams, or pies; also wonderful with savory flavors in chutneys. Great to cross-merchandize with strawberries!
- Sugar Snap Pea*: California-grown starting up! Availability is steady. Volume expected to increase by the second week of April. Edible-pod. Thick pod walls contain rounded peas. Sweet flavor and crunchy texture.
- Bell Pepper*: Orange and yellow bell peppers are in great supply with exceptionally low prices.
- Cara Cara Navel*: Peaking in flavor! Flesh is a vivid and rich salmon color and seedless. Flavor is sweet with low acid. Get these tasty citrus treats before they’re gone for the season!
- Cauliflower: Ample supply with sharp pricing. Talk to your Account Manager for pallet-filler deals!
- Celery: Strong availability with low prices.
- Date*: Stock up for the upcoming Ramadan holiday! Terrific item to offer customers that are looking for nutritious shelf-stable foods. Try cross-merchandising dates with picnic-friendly items and supplies. In plentiful supply. Available varieties include Deglet Noor, Medjool, and Khadrawi. We also have coco rolls, almond nuggets, pecan nuggets, date pastes, and snack packs. Dates have a complex sweet flavor with a nutty finish.
- Murcott Tangerine: Flush in supply with sharp pricing.
- Ruby Grapefruit*: Peaking in smaller sizes with great pricing. Rich sweet-tart flavor. Talk to your Account Manager for volume deals!
- Strawberry*: Californian fruit is somewhat limited but still steady. Availability will be robust the second week of April. Mexican fruit has soft pricing.
- White Corn: Mexico-grown looking great and in steady supply.
- Artichoke: Gap in supply continues. Availability expected the second week of April.
- Berry: Blackberry and raspberry in very limited supply with high pricing.
- Cucumber: Persian and slicers continue to be extremely limited.
- Goldenberry: Gapping in supply.
- Green Bell Pepper
- Jalapeno Pepper: Tightening up in supply.
- Napa Cabbage: Extremely limited. Gap in supply.
- Passionfruit: Gapping in supply.
Done for the Season:
- Cocktail Grapefruit
- Meiwa Kumquat
- Zutano avocado