Grapes are just entering peak season, with some amazing specialty grapes coming on. But that brings one question to mind – what’s the difference between specialty grapes and any other table grapes we eat?
There is no objective answer to this question. Specialty grapes are grapes that are new, rare, or just too strange to be as available as the more familiar grapes we eat in the USA. This can change by the season, the region grown, or the ever-changing market. A variety that was considered a specialty grape five years ago might now be considered just another table grape, if its popularity grows so much that it becomes widely identified and demanded specifically. (This applies to all produce trends, by the way.)
The IFG-34 and IFG-38 grapes from Murray Family Farms are examples of newly developed varieties that don’t even have a proper name yet, and are still called by their patented numbers assigned by the plant breeders. But their flavor really blew the socks off our sales team!
Other specialty grapes know how to bring the weird, such as the finger grapes from Murray Family Farms. These are two inches long and finger width; some people might struggle to believe they’re grapes. But don’t be fooled by the odd shape – they are absolutely delicious. Look for them in the coming weeks.
Specialty grapes are a great way to keep the produce aisles exciting! Dazzle your customers with some of the great varieties we’ve got coming in, but make sure to have a tasting table, because many of these grapes must be tasted to be believed.
How to Merchandise Grapes
We’re so happy to see greater demand for more environmentally-friendly packaging, such as paper totes for grapes; and we appreciate the growers who have always provided this option, like Capay Canyon Ranch, Heinke Family Farms, Fruitworld, and Marian Farms.
Tote bags are easy to stack, and make for some great displays; read on to learn how to improve your grape merchandising!
- The Biodynamic Thompsons from Fruitworld or Marian Farm are a unique heirloom grape, and tend to have a loyal following. It’s worth giving them their own display.
- Asian Pears are here, and they are a great complementary produce item to any grape display, as they help break up the look of totes and pouches. Remember, having color and texture breaks are important when building displays.
- Try not to stack grapes more than two to three high. Any higher, and you risk damaging the product or making your display unstable.
- If your displays are on unrefrigerated tables, pull the product at night and store it in the cooler. This will help prolong the freshness.
- Cull through your product daily, pulling out all tired and damaged fruit.
New and Exciting
* Asian Pear (Left): A crisp, crunchy bite with a honey-sweet taste. These are not quite as sweet as the bartletts, but have a famous texture and unmistakably unique flavor.
Avocado: Mexicali and Mexicola avocados will be available soon. A unique trait of these varieties is that the skin is completely edible, and has a flavor and aroma similar to anise. The flesh is creamy and buttery, with a rich, nutty flavor.
Chanterelle Mushroom: With a rich aroma that has been described as slightly fruity and almost apricot-like, these mushrooms offer a peppery taste and a soft, melt-in-your-mouth texture when cooked.
Dry-Farmed Tomato: Dry-farmed tomatoes are given little to no water, and as a result are smaller than typical tomatoes, with lower yield. But the flavor is concentrated and rich, with a dense texture, making it unlike any other tomato out there. Sea Level Farm is famous for the high quality taste of their dry-farmed tomatoes.
Fuji Apple: Early California Fuji starts August 22nd, with more expected to come in late September.
* Grape (Right): Lots of specialty grapes are coming in, such as the Hamburg Muscat Grape from Marian Farms and the Concord from Heinke Family Farm. Hamburg Muscat Grapes are low in acid, with a sweet taste and a perfume muscat aroma. The Heinke Farm’s Concords are only available for a short window, but their tart skin and deep, sweet flavor is something that cannot be missed!
Passionfruit: We’re passionate about passionfruit! Sweet and tart, with a unique tropical aroma, we expect to have supply through December.
Pineapple Tomatillo: These tomatillos are yellow and are perfect for making salsa as well as several amazing Mexican dishes. The flavor is similar to the typical green variety, but slightly sweeter.
Red Jalapeño: The weather may be hot, but things are about to get hotter with our pepper program. Jalapeno, Hatch, and Mixed Habanero are here to spice up your shelves. Can’t handle the heat? Poblano, Shishito, Padron, and other mild peppers are yours for the taking.
Avocado: Reed avocado is in strong supply. They are known for their impressive size, round shape, and skin that stays green even when ripe. They are said to be some of the best tasting avocados among growers.
Cantaloupe: Deliciously sweet with a rich fragrance, these cantaloupes have solid quantity available.
Cauliflower: Strong supply, with promotable pricing.
* Cherry Tomato (Left): Mixed Cherry tomatoes from Veliz Organic Family Farm, a VV-exclusive, are promotable. They have a great taste and vibrant coloring that will turn your shelves into a work of art. Sweet 100 Cherry tomatoes have reduced pricing and a sweet quality that they’re named for.
Gala Apple: Promotable pricing on these deliciously sweet Gala Apples.
Pepper: Reduced prices on green peppers. Pouches of sweet Mexican peppers are also at a sharp price.
Red Flame Grape: Crisp, refreshing texture with a wonderfully complex sweetness. These grapes are beautiful and priced to move. The grape crop is outstanding this season, all the way around.
Tomato: Steady supply of Roma Tomato from Veliz Organic Family Farm, and as well as aggressive pricing on TOV. Mixed heirloom tomatoes are promotable, with strong supply, and they look delicious!
* Zucchini (Right): Strong supply on this veggie staple.
Done for the Season
Mushroom: Morel & Porcini are done for the season.