It must be summer, because the temperature is heating up and we find ourselves craving that oh-so-refreshing taste of a juicy sweet watermelon.
Watermelons have been quenching thirst for thousands of years. Their known history dates back over 5,000 years to southern Africa, where the drought resistant ancestor of watermelons first grew. The fruit was prized for its ability to store water, and early explorers even used watermelons as canteens. Throughout the warm climates of the world, farmers selectively bred varieties and saved their seeds.
During the 20th century, significant progress was made to improve the watermelon, such as the introduction of the seedless watermelon. More recent variations focused on making watermelons that vary in size, are disease resistant, and even have more flavor. Regional favorites and heirloom varieties, like ‘Moon & Stars’ and the huge oblong ‘Charleston Grey’ are often only available at Farmers Markets these days.
Fun Fact: the heart of any watermelon has the most sugar.
Talk to your Account Manager and make sure that you’re fully stocked up on watermelons this summer!
Getting Ready for Summer
Summer is officially here! Here are some tips on showcasing all this season’s bounty.
- Watermelon bins are a must for summer gatherings. If there isn’t space for a full bin, you can floor stack cases of mini melons at registers for quick impulse buys. Also, remember to keep bins shaded if they’re outside.
- Berries, berries, berries. Make sure to have your department stocked with plenty of berries with an emphasis on strawberries and blueberries. Berries will be used for everything from salads to drinks, to desserts. Inspect daily for the beginning signs of breakdown and cull out all undesirable looking fruit.
- Pre-cut fruits and other items. There’s always high demand for precut produce and fruit that’s been cut and wrapped will fly off the shelf. Half melons are perfect for urban shoppers.
- Cross merchandising opportunities. Picnics, BBQs, and outdoor parties will be more frequent. Supplies for the grill, plus beer and chips, are obvious items to add to your displays. Floor stacking beer, soda, and sparkling water next to your tables or in a standalone display is a great way to increase ‘basket size.’ Also, when stocking beverages don’t forget to add lemons and limes to your display!
- Stock up on stone fruit. Customers will be looking for peaches, nectarines, and apricots, as they have become popular grilling items and are fantastic when given a slight char. They’re also popular ingredients for holiday cocktails, desserts, and fruit salads.
- Corn-on-the cob. A quintessential vegetable for summer grilling!
New & Exciting!
Black Mission Fig: The most popular fig variety in California. Rich and sweet with a hint of berry flavor, pink to purple flesh The Breva crop has just begun–a short bonus crop that begins at the beginning of summer produced on the previous season’s shoot growth. The main crop starts in late summer and can last through November if weather is good.
Floral: Dahlias are now in season. These beauties are available in straight pack cases and also mixed into Thomas Farm’s seasonal bouquets. Available for preorder now! New to our floral program? Ask your Account Manager about being added to our weekly floral availability list!
Gooseberry (left): Small, golden-yellow fruit, enclosed by a papery casing, like a Chinese lantern, that grows around the fruit as it forms. Unique sweet-tart tropical flavor and tomato-like in texture. Beautiful exotic addition to everything from salads to desserts!
Grape: specialty high-flavor profile red Candy Snap grapes are starting up from Anthony Vineyards. Firm small berries and an intensely fruity sweet flavor makes this variety a popular one! Currently available in clamshells only.
Hard Squash: The California season for hard squash is starting up! Local supply of Acorn and Spaghetti are here now.
Kefir Milk: 100% grass-fed whole milk kefir from Alexandre Family Farms has the creaminess and flavor of full fat milk with all the digestive benefits of live and active cultures! Probiotic fermentation makes kefir up to 99% lactose-free!
Lemon Cucumber: Despite its name, this variety does not taste like lemons. It is lemon shaped with pale yellow tender skin. Mild cucumber flavor and very crunchy and juicy!
Orient Express Eggplant: Early season Asian variety with tender and delicate flavor. Versatile and great in stir-fries, stews, or roasted.!
Melon: The California melon season is in full swing! Cantaloupe, Honeydew, and Watermelon are readily available. Bins of watermelon are available via preorder. Looking for specialty melons? The Snow Leopard (left) is a white flesh melon somewhat crunchy in texture, with bright flavor super sweet with undertones of honey and pear. The name comes from its cream– colored skin with green spots and streaks. Galias are green fleshed with a tropical sweet flavor. Beautiful orange flesh Goddess melons from Full Belly Farm coming soon!
Purple Bell Pepper: Similar to a traditional green bell pepper but with a striking purple hue on the outside (inside is green!) Add a pop of color to your summer grilling displays!
Shishito Pepper (right): Small bright green peppers with wonderful flavor—sweet, slightly smoky and generally not spicy. One in ten shishitos will be hot! They are thin-skinned and cook up in no time at all. We love ‘em grilled or pan fried with a little salt and squeeze of lemon juice! Growing in popularity every year, get on the Shishito train!
- Rainier Cherry: Washington-grown. This golden yellow cherry with pinkish-red blush is popular for its bright cheery appearance and sweet flavor. Named after Washington’s Mt. Rainier, this variety was created by crossing two red cherry varieties—Bing and Van.
- Red Plum: Finally making their appearance this season! The Showtime variety is a nice classic red skin variety with yellow flesh.
- Pluot: Wild River has come on with pluots! Early Dapple Dandy, Emerald Blush and Sangria varieties all available now.
Tomato: Open pint cherry tomatoes from Durst Organic Growers are in! Located in Yolo County, California, Jim Durst grows some of the best cherry tomatoes we have tasted. Pints include a mix of eleven varieties including Sungolds and Sweet 100s.
Baby Broccoli: AKA Broccolini. Supply is steady; check out our specials pricing!
Blueberry (below): Heritage Highbush blueberries from Sierra Cascade are sweet and snappy! The family-owned farm is located in the Lassen foothills, east of Chico, California and has been sustainably growing blueberries for three decades!
Cherry: Beloved cherry grower, Ferrari Farms is finishing up their season. Act fast to get in on the last of local California cherries! Next up are two of our favorite labels from the Paciifc Northwest: La Pierre Farms and Columbia Gorge.
Strawberry: Peak of the season brings great flavor, availability and promotable pricing. Check out the new open– pint option from Blue House Farm!
Mushroom: Promotable pricing on Shiitake #1 and #2 and Lion’s Mane from Sumano’s Organic Mushrooms extended through August!
Tomatoes on the Vine: Strong supply and sharp pricing on Mexican-grown fruit.
Yellow Peach & Yellow Nectarine (right): Volume available on yellow peaches and nectarines. Multiple varieties and sizes to choose from! Ask your Account Manager for guidance. or check out our guide.
Zucchini: The California season is here and now. Supply is plentiful for this versatile summer squash.
Blackberry: Mexican supply is ending and local California production is starting up
Cauliflower: Market is tightening up due to quality issues in the field.
Corn: Dwelley Farms corn expected to arrive after July 4. Volume should be good to start.
One & Two-Layer Tomato: Extremely limited; we’re bringing in everything we can. Check out TOVs for an affordable alternative.
Slicing Cucumber: Supply is tight as growers transition to the Baja region of Mexico