The Wax Factor

Many organic fruits and vegetables, such as apples, produce their own natural wax. However, some produce requires additional wax to decrease dehydration and slow down decay as it makes its way to market. Wax provides a protective coating to seal in moisture and keep produce looking fresher for longer. The most commonly waxed items are citrus and cucumbers. Lemons, limes, grapefruit, oranges, and tangerines are the most frequently waxed citrus. Cucumbers are sometimes waxed to keep them firm and crisp, especially in the winter months. Tomatoes are also occasionally waxed in the winter months.

Waxes approved for use on organic produce must be food-grade and must contain materials approved by the OMRI (Organic Materials Review Institute) such as carnauba (extracted from palm leaves), wood rosin, and orange shellac. They cannot contain petroleum-based ingredients, preservatives, or fungicides. It is not required for growers to disclose wax information or publish it on their produce boxes. Rest assured, we work closely with our growers to understand their pre- and post-harvest practices and obtain this relevant information as needed.

Fruit

Apple and Pear

Apple supply continues to tighten and prices are going up. Local supply on Braeburn, Fuji, and Pink Lady is still going. Cameo, Gala, Granny Smith, and Honeycrisp have availability from Washington.

Pears are winding down fast. The last of the Asian pears are in-house now. Forelle and Red Comice are done for the season. We’ll see a bit more Bartlett and Red D’Anjou. Bosc is in better supply.

Avocado

Hass supply has been erratic due to the holidays and will continue to be unpredictable leading up to the Super Bowl on February 3rd. Prices are expected to firm up. Bacon are pretty much over for the season, but we may see a few more trickle in. We’ll see steady Fuerte supply for another few weeks,and Zutano avocado grown in Southern California have started up. Now is the time to start planning your avocado needs for the biggest avocado consumption weekend of the year!

Berries

Blueberry and blackberry are in steady supply from Mexico. Local strawberry supply is less steady as cold and wet weather will likely slow or halt production.

Citrus

California’s rainy season has come and is expected to stick around. This will affect all availability on fruit from the Central Valley and Chico growing areas. Navel, Cara Cara Navel, Satsuma, and tangerines have become more limited. Supply coming from the desert growing regions will continue without issue. Lemons and ruby grapefruit and tangerines from B&J Ranch will remain steady. Fairchild tangerines have a sharp price and are great for juicing! Blood oranges have started up; supply is limited but should improve as more growers come on. Kishu from Churchill Orchards have started. This variety is a cult favorite for its petite size and perfectly balanced sweet-tart flavor. Nagami kumquats are done. Meiwa kumquats are gapping until they color up.

Melon

Freezing temperatures in Mexico are impacting supply and may cause delays. Mini seedless watermelon and honeydew are expected to come on in mid-January. Limited amounts of Harper and Galia are available. 

Pomegranate

Pomegranate are expected to continue for two more weeks.

Vegetables

Asparagus

Green asparagus are gapping in supply due to quality issues. Supply should improve in a couple weeks as more growers come on. However, weather may cause delays.

Broccoli/Cauliflower

Local temperatures have dipped below freezing at night and slowed production for broccoli and cauliflower. Supply is impacted.

Brussels Sprout

Brussels sprouts have strong volume. This is a great item to promote during January to help kick-start shoppers’ New Year’s resolutions around healthier eating. Roasted, boiled or, sliced raw into cabbage and slaws—Brussels sprouts can be prepared in any number of ways.

Cabbage

Red and green cabbage are in good supply. We’re seeing promotable pricing on green cabbage.

Celery

Supply continues to be limited. Prices are likely to remain high until more producers enter the market in the second half of January.

Cucumber

English Hothouse cucumber are readily available at a sharp price. Persian and Slicer are limited.

Greens, Herbs & Lettuce

Demand is outpacing supply of greens, herbs, and lettuce. Cold and rainy weather is also impacting availability and contributing to labor issues. Short supply is expected to continue for a couple more weeks. Boxed greens and retail greens have better availability. Parsley is in steady supply. Chives and basil are gapping. Tarragon is not steady and cilantro may be limited due to freezing temperatures in the desert growing region.

Leek

Leeks are readily available with promotable pricing.

Mushrooms

Mushroom supply is steady on all varieties for the moment. However, we may see some shifts in availability if the temperature drops again.

Onion

Prices have gone up on all onions and sizes, which is not unusual after the holiday rush. Supply remains steady.

Pepper

The bell pepper market has changed dramatically from just a couple weeks ago. Supply is strong on all colors. Prices are coming down fast. Chilies are expected to continue with no gaps. Sweet peppers are limited.

Potato

Road Twenty Farm new-crop golden and red potatoes have come on. The first potatoes are harvested by hand to ensure sizing, consistency, and yield.  These spuds look beautiful and offer creamy delicious flavor. These are a staff and customer favorite!

Squash

Zucchini are limited. Mediums are not available. California-grown Butternut, Delicata, and Spaghetti are available. Kabocha and Acorn are done and will gap until the Mexico growing season starts up in February.

Tomato

One- and two-layer slicers are extremely limited. Romas are gapping in supply. Cherry tomato prices are up. Heirlooms are limited; we’re getting all that we can. Tomatoes-on-vine (TOV) are in good supply.

Floral

Thomas Farm and Full Belly are back from holiday and resuming normal shipping. Full Belly still has dried wreaths and dried bouquets available. The wreaths are handmade with seasonal dried flowers; no two are alike! Thomas Farm is continuing with seasonal bouquets. Keep an eye out for new varieties coming on including Dutch Iris, Tulips, Anemone, Sweet William, Calendula, Snap Dragon, Iris, and other winter blooms.

Wild Ridge Organics has steady supply of mixed Protea bouquets. This new grower specializes in unique South African and Australian drought-tolerant flowers. These blooms are truly beautiful and are perfect for drying!

Grocery

We offer a full line of organic maple products including maple syrup in glass containers and bulk sizes from Maple Valley Co-Op, a growers’ co-op. Make sure to stock up on maple sugar candy, which will now only be available for the winter season! Whipped maple cream will no longer be produced by Maple Valley, but we have the last few cases. All Maple Valley products are certified organic and free of additives, preservatives, and formaldehyde as well as being kosher-certified and vegan. Yum!

Merchandising Corner

The Importance of Clear Signage

New Year, new goals! No matter what goals are on your list to accomplish this year, growing sales is probably near the top. There are many strategies you can put in place to grow sales but there is one simple thing you can do that will have an immediate effect and is relatively easy to do with a little coordination. What is that, you ask? The answer is clear, consistent signage with accurate pricing.  

Product signs that are a consistent size and color and displayed well make an instant positive impact on the overall look of your department. Whether you have handwritten or printed signs, pick one size and color and stick with it. Different sizes and colors can be confusing to the customer and starts to look jumbled and messy. The objective is to make product information and pricing easy to read and find. A hassle-free shopping experience for customers makes the trip more pleasurable and successful. When they feel confident in the information provided to them about the product they are purchasing, they will be less likely to second-guess that purchase. Many of us focus on resets and changing up displays to create a new look and catch customers’ attention. While both of those are great and need to be done, revamping product signage is often overlooked. Try making this one change and see what a difference it makes in the overall look of your department.

Correct pricing goes hand in hand with cohesive signage. Ideally, all price changes should be done before the store opens for the day. This means submitting price changes in an appropriate timely manner, usually at least the day before. When pricing is off, it can cause many problems like loss of margin due to underpricing, discouraging purchases at the register when they ring up at a higher price, and creating a distrustful relationship due to unreliable pricing. Price changes can be assigned to a closing clerk so that signs are ready to go in the morning, or make signs in advance when you know a price will be changing and switch the signs out the morning that change goes into effect. Depending on your store, make price changes as often or infrequently as needed. Find a system that works for you. Accurate pricing not only benefits the customer but your department and the store overall.