Cherries have been around longer than most civilizations, with the first recorded mention of them in Theophrastus’s ‘Enquiry into Plants,’ written around 300 BC. The fruit originated in what is now Turkey, spreading throughout Asia Minor to Europe with the aid of birds.
Even though there are thousands of varieties of cherries, they fall into two categories: sweet and tart. Tart cherries are used almost exclusively in baking, as they retain their shape well, and offer a sour flavor that balances the sweetness of pies, and jams. Virtually all tart cherries in the USA are grown in Michigan and go directly to processing; we almost never see fresh tart cherries in the Western states. Fun fact: Russia is the biggest producer of tart cherries globally.
Sweet cherries are eaten fresh, out of hand, and are what people think of when someone says ‘cherry.’ Fun fact: Turkey is the biggest producer of sweet cherries, with over double the production of the USA.
The California cherry season is just picking up, but has been impacted by severe weather; as a result, prices are steep. We suggest you get your cherries before they’re gone!
And please check out our cherry variety guide to learn more about the varieties out there.
Cross Promotions for BBQ Season
Picnic and grilling season is here, and folks are looking for specialty and seasonal items to pop on the grill. It’s also one of the best opportunities for cross-merchandising. Over the years, we’ve seen many departments team up to make displays that have been hugely successful.
Here are a few.
- Kellie at Canyon Market sees a bump in sales when she builds a big display of all her grilling favorites like soft squashes, mini peppers, little gem lettuces, spring onions, artichokes and cherry tomatoes
- Sacramento Natural Foods likes to focus on corn, yellow peaches, spring onions, green beans, portabella mushrooms, and melons.
- New Moon Natural Foods in Truckee builds attractive entry way displays of corn, broccoli, tomatoes, pineapple, and stone fruit.
- Adding items from other departments like pickles, charcoal briquettes, buns, skewers, olive oil, BBQ sauce and all the other condiments to your displays will drive sales.
- And don’t forget marshmallows, chocolate bars, and graham crackers. No backyard BBQ or camp cook-out is complete without s’mores! Many stores opt for a display of all these support items in their produce department; get your customers thinking about grilling and summer cooking!
Now get outside and eat!
New and Exciting
Apricot: The Solcot variety is just in, with a beautiful blush and a tangy-sweet taste.
Blood orange: Blood oranges are back in stock. They have a strong, crimson color and a flavor that balances well between sweet and tart.
*Cherry (left): Tioga cherries are dark and delicious, while the Coral and Royal Hazel varieties have a crisp snap and excellent texture. Spurs and doubles (off-grade) are also available, at a rock bottom price
Melon: The California Imperial Valley production is starting up, so you can expect domestic mini-watermelons and cantaloupe from the desert to be available next week.
Mixed squash from Comanche Creek: Delicious variety of small to medium sized squash, including zucchini, costata romanesco, cousa, yellow eight ball, and more that will look beautiful on your produce shelves.
Nectarine: White and Yellow nectarines are just around the corner. Yellow nectarines have a more complex and acidic flavor. White nectarines are considered a “sub-acid” fruit, and taste sweeter.
*Peach (right): White and Yellow peaches have both just arrived this week. Let the summer fun begin!
Red Grape: California-grown seedless red grapes are expected to start next week, weather permitting. Green grapes will be coming in shortly after.
Zucchini: California season is ramping up! We will be moving away from Mexican grown, with more local squash coming soon.
*Artichoke (left): Lots of 18s and 24s coming from several growers, all looking delicious, with a deep green color, and some slight purple hues. Baby artichokes landed about a week ago and have a gorgeous purple blush.
Blackberry: Steady supply, with prices varying, depending on the vendor. We expect them to go strong until the end of this month. Get them while you can!
Broccoli and Baby Broccoli: Excellent volume on these healthy, green veggies, with sharp pricing.
Cauliflower: The numbers are finally looking good for cauliflower! Promotable prices.
Globe Eggplant: The new crop of Mexican grown eggplant is finally here. You can expect prices to start coming down soon. Domestic not expected until June.
Lettuce: Green leaf, red leaf, and romaine are in strong supply.
Lime: Prices continue to fall as supply improves.
Persian Cucumber: Good volumes mean prices are falling fast!
Pineapple: Great supply coming out of Mexico.
*Shiitake Mushroom (right): We’ve got a great stock of shiitake mushrooms, and they’re going to move fast. Promotable!
Sugar Snap pea: Snap peas are a cross between a snow pea and a garden pea. They are at peak quality right now! Get your sugar with a snap!
Tofu: The new All-day scramble is a plant-based egg-like dish that’s full of flavor, and is available from Hodo Tofu. It arrives fully cooked and offers a great protein boost, (with no eggs)
Valencia: Promotable pricing and great quantities of Valencia oranges. We have Mexico-grown fruit from Earthgreens as well as California-grown from B&J Ranch, a VV exclusive grower.
Button Mushroom: Monterey mushrooms will be limited.
Celery: Limited. Central coast production is off to a slow start, and Salinas production is reportedly still weeks away.
Cherimoya: This season’s crop will tail off in quantity, but still three weeks of supply.
Chili: Poblano are still gapping. Jalapeno limited.
Mango: Supply will be limited from the southern region of Oaxaca through May. Organic Ataulfo mangos from Nayarit (central region) will start in late May. Tommy’s will ramp up in volume by the second week of June.
Meyer lemons: Limited; prices are going up.
Spinach: The rain from a few weeks ago is now showing effect. Savoy spinach is limited. Availability will be back to normal in about a week.
Done for the Season