Author Archives: Veritable Vegetable

New Year, New Merchandising

Holiday planning doesn’t stop at Thanksgiving. Christmas, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day all follow in short order. These holidays are busy shopping days as customers prepare for their holidays celebrations. New Year’s Eve is all about snacking and drinking. Fresh-cut items make it easier for customers to shop for ingredients as they consider what to cook. Alternatively, fresh-cut party platters full of veggies and fruit are great additions for the party guest or host not looking to cook. Stock up on popular party ingredients such as Belgian endive and cherry tomatoes for hors d’oeuvres platters. Crudité is still all the rage, so stock up on baby carrots, celery, cucumbers, red bell peppers, broccoli, and cauliflower and display with conveniently merchandised dips. Talk to your grocery department about displaying packages of dry dip mixes and canned and or jarred olives. Including these little items with your produce inspires and encourages purchases.

New Year’s Day food traditions vary from culture to culture. One popular tradition that has spread through the U.S. in recent years is the Southern tradition of eating collard greens and black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day. These specific foods are believed to bring you good luck throughout the next year or “peas for pennies, greens for dollars, and cornbread for gold.” In Korean culture, traditional New Year’s Day foods often includes rice cake soup, dumplings or mandu, and savory pancakes with meat, fish, and vegetables. In Spain and Mexico, eating 12 grapes at midnight as the clock strikes once for each hour will bring you luck for the 12 months ahead. Get to know your customer base and tailor your displays and promotions around their needs.

After the indulgences of the holidays, customers will also be shopping for the next few weeks to make good on their New Year’s resolutions around detoxing, eating better, and staying healthy. Get ready for the health craze rush that usually lasts all month. Juice cleanses and adopting new eating habits like going raw or vegan, or cooking more at home and eating out less, are all things that will bring you new customers. Be prepared to meet these needs by offering a diverse selection of fresh produce (think celery, kale, ginger, turmeric) and familiarize your staff with basic info about juicing and different dietary guidelines. If you have a wellness department, it would be great idea to display books with juicing recipes and maybe some vegan and vegetarian cook books. January is a great time to gain and keep new customers. This is the one time of year large numbers of people in your community will be coming into your store for the first time looking for better food.

Juice is the Word

Fresh juices with organic produce

With Christmas just around the corner, it’s time to prepare for the onslaught of  New Year’s resolutions around eating better, or as we like to call it, Juice Cleansing January. Customers will be perusing the produce section with more frequency looking for fresh options to juice. Plan ahead and anticipate your customers’ juicing needs.

Celery juice is the most recent wellness trend thanks to celebrities, social media influencers, and other wellness gurus recommending celery juice as the essential magical elixir. Unique fruit flavors are gaining popularly, such as dragon fruit (for its vibrant pink color), prickly pear, yuzu, calamansi lime, Meyer lemon, tangerines, and more.  Of course, the classic juicing items will continue to be in high demand: apple, banana, beet, carrot, cucumber, ginger, garlic, leafy greens such as kale and spinach, orange, and lemon. Be ready to answer questions about items for juicing, the shelf life of fresh juice, favorite combinations for juicing, and more. Go one step further and have juice recipes printed ready to hand out to customers new to juicing and looking for ideas.

Health-charged customers are ready to fill their baskets with fresh items. Use this opportunity to plan ahead and provide a positive shopping experience for customers, which includes having fully stocked shelves. Kick off the New Year with a healthy bang!

Keep a lookout for staff picks notes in orange.

Fruit

Apple and Pear

Apple supply is beginning to tighten, which is standard at this time in the season. Expect prices to tick up gradually. Local supply on Fuji, Granny Smith, and Pink Lady is still going.

Red pears are winding down; but we have plenty of supply to last through the holidays. Locally grown Bosc are still available. Locally grown Bartlett is ending; we may see a couple more small shots.

Avocado

California Hass are done for the season. Mexican Hass will keep us in steady supply heading into the New Year. California-grown Bacon are winding down, but Zutano are readily available. Fuerte, one of the most popular of all the greenskin varieties, are starting. Used as pollinators for Hass flowers, we love the delicious flavor and creamy, buttery texture of all the greenskin fruit. Plus they’re from local California farms!

Citrus

Navel oranges have good supply. We’re loving the fruit from Heath Ranch—the best tasting navels this season! Cara Cara Navel are continuing steadily. Mexican choice-grade and juice-grade Valencia are readily available. Marsh Ruby grapefruit from B&J Ranch have arrived and are available exclusively through VV. Sweet, juicy, and refreshing—fruit from this grower is high quality and arrives unwaxed. Tangerine season is in full swing. Fairchild tangerines are readily available and great for juicing. The sweet tangy flavor makes this a seasonal favorite! Satsumas have strong supply in a variety of sizes: large, jumbo, and mammoth. Orlando Tangelo have good supply and are tasting great. If you haven’t tried a tangelo yet—now’s the time! They are super juicy with tangerine-like flavor that is sweeter and more fragrant. Clementines are plentiful. Kishu tangerine have come on with limited availability. Supply should improve in January when more growers come on. Page mandarins have arrived. These have the juiciness of a Minneola Tangelo and the sweetness and size of the Clementine.

Melon

Melons are likely limited across all varieties until mid-January. Specialty varieties such as Galia and Harper melons will be coming from Mexico in limited quanities at the end of December.

Specialty Fruit

We’re getting everything we can on passionfruit, dragon fruit, cherimoya, and yuzu. Fun fact: In Japan there is a practice of bathing with yuzu (known as yuzuyu) every year on the winter solstice. The baths are believed to promote beauty and health and fortify against winter cold and flu, while the enzymes from the oil of the peel are thought to help soften the skin and improve digestion.

Vegetables

Bean

Green beans are steady and plentiful; prices are down.

Broccoli/Cauliflower

Broccoli supply has improved and we should see prices have come down. Desert production of cauliflower is up; prices are falling.

Celery

Celery is very limited and prices are expected to remain high through the holidays. Supply is not expected to improve until second week of January.

Cucumber

Persian cucumbers are limited. Slicer cucumber supply is tight; prices are up. English Hothouse supply is a bit limited.

Eggplant

Globe eggplant is abundant and available at a sharp price. Graffiti will be coming into supply soon.

Greens & Lettuce

Adam Brothers Family Farm in Santa Barbara has been identified as the source of contaminated romaine in the recent E.Coli outbreak. We do not source from this grower. Our larger growers who ship from multiple regions are shipping out of California’s Imperial Valley and Yuma, Arizona and have adopted the voluntary labeling agreement on romaine and romaine hearts. Our smaller local growers such as Tomatero Farm, Givens, and Full Belly Farm display the growing region on the box and have also added harvest date stickers to boxes.

Boxed and retail greens supply are limited as growers are still recovering from the market impacts of the romaine E.Coli outbreak. With the shortage of romaine available, there was increased demand for other greens. Local growers are also reporting smaller harvests due to the colder weather. Green and red leaf supply are limited. Butter lettuce and iceberg are limited. Little Gem is done for the season.

Mushrooms

Although the rain has affected availability from some labels, our diverse grower mix is keeping us in good supply on button, shiitake, and oyster mushrooms. Maiitake are gapping; supply is expected to continue to be limited.

Pepper

Red bell peppers are very limited; prices are up. Yellow and green bells are steadier. Orange bells are readily available. Quality is high and prices are sharp. The Mexican chili season is in full swing. We’re seeing plenty of Jalapeño, Padrón, Anaheim, Serrano, and Cherry Bomb. Sweet peppers are coming back into steady availability.

Potato

Some specialty varieties are winding down for the season. Russian Banana, French Fingerling, and Ruby Crescent are just about done. The Fingerling Medley will continue for a bit longer. Look for Purple Majesty spuds coming soon! This variety is one of the more nutritious potatoes due to its high antioxidant levels. It has deep purple skin and vibrant purple flesh!

Root

All is calm on the root front. Parsnip, rutabaga, turnip, and horseradish are in good supply. Bunched and bagged beets are readily available.

Squash

Zucchini supply is limited; prices are way up. Hard squash continues to wind down. Butternut, Delicata, and Spaghetti are still ingood supply. Red Kuri is limited to #2 or choice grade and Green Kabocha is still available. Don’t overlook Jarahdale and Angel Hair Spaghetti. These are great specialty varieties to spice up your squash display!

Tomato

Tomato supply from Mexico has tightened due to colder weather, which can slow tomato  maturation. Prices are up on slicers, tomatoes-on-vine (TOV), and Roma. Cherry tomatoes are steadier, as are heirlooms from Ram’s Farm. This farm is located in Baja California, Mexico where the Pacific breeze and mild climate are ideal for growing produce. The heirlooms are hand-selected to prevent bruising and pre-cooled prior to shipment to preserve freshness and integrity. Winter heirlooms from this grower are highly coveted for their great taste and quality. Picked green, these ripen beautifully!

Floral

Look for Dutch Iris, Tulips, and other winter varieties like Anemone, Sweet William, Calendula, Snap Dragon, and Protea from Thomas Farm starting in January. Thomas Farm will not be shipping from December 23rd to January 3rd. Orders for Thursday, January 5th must be in by Wednesday, January 2nd at 7AM. Dried wreaths from Full Belly Farm are available for a limited time only. The farm will be closed from December 8th through January 8th. The first shipment in 2019 will be January 9th.

For your winter floral needs, check out our new grower Wild Ridge Organics and their beautiful mixed Protea bouquets. They specialize in South African and Australian cut flowers grown in Aromas, California.

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

New Year, New Merchandising

Holiday planning doesn’t stop at Thanksgiving. Christmas, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day all follow in short order. These holidays are busy shopping days as customers prepare for their holidays celebrations. New Year’s Eve is all about snacking and drinking. Fresh-cut items make it easier for customers to shop for ingredients as they consider what to cook. Alternatively, fresh-cut party platters full of veggies and fruit are great additions for the party guest or host not looking to cook. Stock up on popular party ingredients such as Belgian endive and cherry tomatoes for hors d’oeuvres platters. Crudité is still all the rage, so stock up on baby carrots, celery, cucumbers, red bell peppers, broccoli, and cauliflower and display with conveniently merchandised dips. Talk to your grocery department about displaying packages of dry dip mixes and canned and or jarred olives. Including these little items with your produce inspires and encourages purchases.

New Year’s Day food traditions vary from culture to culture. One popular tradition that has spread through the U.S. in recent years is the Southern tradition of eating collard greens and black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day. These specific foods are believed to bring you good luck throughout the next year or “peas for pennies, greens for dollars, and cornbread for gold.” In Korean culture, traditional New Year’s Day foods often includes rice cake soup, dumplings or mandu, and savory pancakes with meat, fish, and vegetables. In Spain and Mexico, eating 12 grapes at midnight as the clock strikes once for each hour will bring you luck for the 12 months ahead. Get to know your customer base and tailor your displays and promotions around their needs.

After the indulgences of the holidays, customers will also be shopping for the next few weeks to make good on their New Year’s resolutions around detoxing, eating better, and staying healthy. Get ready for the health craze rush that usually lasts all month. Juice cleanses and adopting new eating habits like going raw or vegan, or cooking more at home and eating out less, are all things that will bring you new customers. Be prepared to meet these needs by offering a diverse selection of fresh produce (think celery, kale, ginger, turmeric) and familiarize your staff with basic info about juicing and different dietary guidelines. If you have a wellness department, it would be great idea to display books with juicing recipes and maybe some vegan and vegetarian cook books. January is a great time to gain and keep new customers. This is the one time of year large numbers of people in your community will be coming into your store for the first time looking for better food.

Year End Merchandising Tips

The end of the year is busy time for produce as the holidays come one right after another. With Thanksgiving down, we have just a few more to go. Hanukkah (December 2-10th),  Christmas (December 25th) and New Year’s Eve (December 31st)  are filled with cultural and ethnic traditions that will affect your customers’ food and shopping habits. Get to know your customers well and customize your merchandising and displays to their needs.

Christmas Ingredients: Many of the same products popular for Thanksgiving will also be in demand for Christmas celebrations. Provide full displays of potatoes, herbs, celery, sweet potatoes, winter squash, green beans, Brussels sprouts, nuts and chestnuts, and cranberries.

Traditional Hanukkah Ingredients: Many Hanukkah foods are deep fried in oil symbolizing the oil from the menorah used in the Temple. This may include latkes or potato pancakes (with apple sauce topping) and jelly donuts. Stock up on potatoes, apples, onions, sweet potatoes, citrus fruit, honey, and walnuts. Chocolate gelt, a candy is also popular.

Celebrate Citrus: Tangerines are in full swing and very popular as stocking stuffers, gifts and all around daily snacking. Satsumas, Fairchilds, Orlandos and Clementines are all in great supply and never fail to impress with their amazing flavor. Grapefruit and navel oranges are also popular items at this time of year. Highlight your new seasonal fresh citrus items by building big citrus endcaps or placing bins of satsumas or bagged grapefruit in the entryway of your store.

Dried Fruit & Nuts: Holiday season is the time for these categories to shine. Build up a display to include shelled nuts, nuts-in shell and various dried fruits such as raisins, prunes, persimmon, dates and jujube. Provide a delicious fruit cake recipe for easy reference.

Convenience Items: Holiday season also means holiday party season. Make it easy for both guests and hosts to shop with a well-stocked fresh cut display and plenty of options for grab-and-go meals. Precut veggies, mirepoix mix, veggie spirals, riced veggies, cooked beets, and bagged salad mixes are all popular items. Don’t forget to order up on seasonal floral bouquets for the perfect hostess gift.

Party Platters: If your deli department has the resources to offer party platters, get on this trend! Veggie platters, fruit trays, cheese plates, wraps and sandwiches are great items to offer during the holiday season.

Follow these tips for a successful holiday season. Reach out to your Account Manager for additional merchandising and planning assistance. It’s not too early to think about New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day planning. Check back for merchandising and display tips in our next Produce Notes.

Orange Fever

Nothing is quite as exciting as the start of citrus season, specifically the return of California grown navel oranges. Navels are large, seedless, sweet and easy to peel. The juicy segments separate easily, which make these the perfect citrus snack. Navels gets their name from the “bellybutton” or the under developed fruit protruding at the blossom end of the orange—which resembles a human navel. Although there are several navel varieties out there, the Washington and Cara Cara are the most common. A Cara Cara navel is a red-fleshed navel that is a cross between a Washington navel and the Brazilian Bahia navel. Other navel varieties include Fukumoto, Lane Late, Riverside, Robertson and Skaggs Bonanza.

The navel originated from a single tree that was planted in Brazil in 1820. This tree had a mutation, causing two oranges to be produced within one single piece of fruit. The navel first made its break onto the California scene in the late 1800’s and helped create what we know today as the California citrus industry. The navel is one of the more famous stand out products that California has to offer. This exceptional citrus grows all over the state giving us great supply and a long harvest season.

Keep a lookout for our staff picks noted in orange.

 

Fruit

Apple and Pear

We’re seeing sharp pricing on Fuji #1 medium bins from local grower, Cuyama Orchards. Local Pink Lady is readily available in 113 count fruit. Local supply of Granny Smith is winding down. We’ll move to Washington supply next. Lots of delicious heirloom varieties are still available such as Arkansas Black and Crimson Gold. Check our list to see our full offering of apples!

Asian pear are winding down fast; we’ll only see Olympic going forward. Locally grown Bartlett are still available.

Avocado

California Hass is just about done and Mexican Hass should continue for at least 2-3 months. Prices are stabilizing as supply is steadier, now that the Mexican growers strike is over. California-grown greenskin avocados are starting up. We’ll see Bacon, Zutano, Ettinger and other varieties for about a month. Greenskin fruit is generally big.

Berry

Strawberry supply is limited and prices are high both California and Mexico grown berries. Supply from Baja, California is expected to improve mid-December. Import blueberries from Chile, Mexico and Peru are in good supply; prices are sharp. Mexico grown raspberries are now in production both Baja, California and the Michoacán regions. Supply looks steady. Mexican supply of blackberries is steady. Cranberries are ending soon.

Citrus

Recent rain may affect citrus supply. Navel oranges remain steady. Cara Cara Navel are starting this week. Mexican choice grade and juice grade Valencia are here. Rio Red grapefruit is readily available with competitive pricing. We’ll see Ruby grapefruit from beloved grower, B&J Ranch come on mid-December. Meyer lemons have strong volume and quality. California limes are plentiful and ripe for the picking. Our longstanding grower, Beck Grove is offering Biodynamic fruit grown in Southern California. Tangerine season has taken off! Satsumas are in good supply (and tasting great.) Daisy tangerine have come on; supply is limited. Fairchild tangerines are steady. These are great for juicing! Orlando Tangelo have just arrived. We’ll see Page mandarins in the next week or so.

Kiwi

California grown green and gold kiwi are readily available. The gold variety is trademarked by the grower, Wild River Fruit, as Tropikiwi (you may see this name on the box.) The flavor is sweeter, slightly tropical and less tart than green kiwifruit. The gold also has less fuzz on the outer skin than green kiwi.

Mango

The last of the Ataulfo mango are here—get ‘em while you can! Tommy Atkins from Ecuador are in good supply with promotable pricing.

Melon

Supply out of Mexico is very limited. Mini seedless watermelon and cantaloupe may gap until mid-January while some availability of honeydew continues.

Persimmon

Fuyu and Hachiya are steady. Not sure which persimmon is right for you? Fuyu are non-astringent, which means they can be eaten when firm and crisp. Perfect for a snack or sliced into a seasonal salad! Hachiya are astringent with high levels of tannins that make them unpalatable it eaten before completely ripened. Fully ripe, they are creamy and very sweet—great for baking, purees or ice cream!

Specialty Fruit

Cherimoya has arrived! This tropical fruit is also known as a Custard Apple because of its creamy, sweet and slightly tart flesh. The flavor is a blend of vanilla, pineapple and banana. On the exterior, the skin is green with some scaly depressions. Neither the skin nor black seeds are edible. Mark Twain referred to the Cherimoya as “the most delicious fruit known to men.” Dragon fruit is back in supply with red, pink and white varieties available. Passionfruit and Yuzu are still going.

 

Vegetables

Asparagus

Green asparagus prices are going up. Purple asparagus is not available at this time.

Bean

Mexico grown green beans has steady supply. Prices have come down slightly.

Broccoli/Cauliflower

Production out of California’s Imperial Valley and Arizona’s Yuma regions are off to a slow start and prices remain high. Cauliflower supply is limited.

Cabbage

Green, red and Savoy remain steady.

Cucumber

Persian cucumber pricing is coming down; supply is steady. Slicer cucumbers are plentiful. English Hothouse supply is a bit limited.

Ginger

Peruvian yellow ginger supply is very tight. Prices are going up. Yellow ginger from Hawaiian grower, Kolo Kai is expected to come on in January. Turmeric and galangal are steady.

Greens & Lettuce

While larger growers are transitioning to their winter growing regions in the California desert, several of our local small and mid-sized growers are continuing steadily with dino aka lacinato kale, curly kale and collards.

As of November 26th, the romaine warning issued by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) was narrowed to include only romaine harvested In the Central Coast growing regions of central and northern California. Additionally, the CDC recommended growers utilize a new labeling system designed to provide consumers with information on the region where romaine is grown and harvested. Our larger growers who ship from multiple regions have started shipping out of California’s Imperial Valley and Yuma, Arizona and have adopted the voluntary labeling agreement on romaine and romaine hearts. Our smaller growers such as Tomatero Farm, Givens, Full Belly Farm and Perry Farms, who do not ship from multiple regions, are adding harvest date sticker to boxes. Growing regions are indicated on the box itself. The warning has heavily impacted the lettuce market overall. Prices continue to fluctuate and are not yet stable. Because of the limited romaine on the market, demand for other lettuces has increased dramatically. Green leaf, red leaf, butter, and iceberg are limited; prices are high. Boxed greens are also feeling the effects of the impacted market; prices are up.

Mushrooms

Recent rainy weather means we’ll see increased availability for wild mushrooms. Maitake Frondosa and Trumpet Royale are a just a couple specialty ‘shrooms available. Check back often as availability changes daily. Rain spurs the growth of wild mushrooms, but at the same time, the moisture causes growth of unfavorable bacteria that compromises the compost used in cultivated mushrooms. Button mushroom supply may start to tighten. Oyster and shiitake remain in good supply.

Pea

California sugar snap peas are continuing steadily. English peas have limited supply.

Pepper

Green bell peppers are limited but we should not see any gaps in supply. Orange bells are extremely limited. Yellow bells are steady. Red bells are also limited; prices are going up. Anaheim and Poblano chilies from Mexico have started up. Jalapeno prices are coming down.

Potato

New crop red and golden potatoes from Road 20 Farm are expected to come on the first week of January. These spuds are a seasonal favorite; they look beautiful and taste amazing. The potatoes are hand dug to ensure sizing, consistency and yield. Available for wholesale exclusively through Veritable Vegetable!

Root

Parsnip and rutabaga are readily available. Radish supply has tightened and prices are up. Turnips are steady—white, purple-top, gold—we got ‘em all! Baby white turnips are gapping.

Squash

Zucchini supply has tightened; prices are up. Gold zucchini is steadier. California hard squash is winding down on most varieties. Butternut is still going strong. Delicata and Acorn have good supply. Green, red Kabocha and Red Kuri are limited. Gray Kabocha is done.

Sweet Potato

We’re seeing strong supply on all sweet potatoes: Garnet, Jewel, Hannah, Japanese and Purple Stokes.

Tomato

Tomatoes-on-vine (TOV) are steady on availability and price. Roma and cherry prices are very high. One and two-layer slicers are prices bit volatile but supply should be steady. Heirlooms are coming on any day now! This early in the season, expect less variety in mix medley packs.

 

Nuts

Chestnuts are available in jumbo and colossal sizes for just a bit longer! Gorgeous and delicious, don’t miss out on Heath Ranch’s finest chestnut crop yet. Fresh chestnuts are versatile and can be enjoyed in any number of ways—roasted, steamed, boiled, deep fried and even microwaved! Don’t forget to score the skin of a fresh chestnut before cooking to allow steam to escape and prevent exploding chestnuts. Fresh chestnuts can be frozen whole of shelled in a freezer-safe bag for up to three months.

 

Floral

Sunflowers are done for the season. Come January, look for Dutch Iris, Tulips and other winter varieties like Anemone, Sweet William, Calendula, Snap Dragon, and Protea from Thomas Farm. In observance of the holidays, Thomas Farm will not be shipping from December 23rd to January 3rd  of the New Year. Orders for Thursday, January 5th must be in by Wednesday, January 2nd at 7AM. Dried floral bouquets and dried wreaths from Full Belly Farm are available for a limited time only. The farm will be on holiday from December 8th through January 8th. The first shipment in 2019 will be January 9th.

For your floral needs, check out our new grower, Wild Ridge Organics and their beautiful mixed Protea bouquets. Husband and wife team, Rick McCain and Michelle Noble McCain have been growing unique and drought tolerant flowers since 1997. They specialize in South African and Australian cut flowers grown in Aromas, California.

 

Grocery

It’s that time of year—eggnog season! Alexandre Family Farm Homegrown Eggnog mixes A2 organic milk with Alexandre Kids organic, pasture-raised eggs and a dash of nutmeg, cinnamon, clove, allspice, and turmeric powder. The eggnog is made with whole eggs to get the whole benefit of balanced fats and proteins! Straus Family Creamery Organic Eggnog is so good, you won’t miss the rum! Their old-fashioned Organic Eggnog is made with simple, organic ingredients and finished with a touch of organic nutmeg. No emulsifiers or thickeners are used in this rich blend of organic milk, organic cream, organic sugar, and organic and pasteurized egg yolks. Both eggnogs are seasonal and only available through the end of December by preorder only.

The winter season is a great time to showcase maple flavor in holiday cooking. 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. Maple sugar candy and whipped maple cream are perfect for stocking stuffers and gifts!  All Maple Valley products are certified organic and free of additives, preservatives, and formaldehyde as well as being kosher certified and vegan.

 

Merchandising Corner

Year End Merchandising Tips

The end of the year is busy time for produce as the holidays come one right after another. With Thanksgiving down, we have just a few more to go. Hanukkah (December 2-10th),  Christmas (December 25th) and New Year’s Eve (December 31st)  are filled with cultural and ethnic traditions that will affect your customers’ food and shopping habits. Get to know your customers well and customize your merchandising and displays to their needs.

Christmas Ingredients: Many of the same products popular for Thanksgiving will also be in demand for Christmas celebrations. Provide full displays of potatoes, herbs, celery, sweet potatoes, winter squash, green beans, Brussels sprouts, nuts and chestnuts, and cranberries.

Traditional Hanukkah Ingredients: Many Hanukkah foods are deep fried in oil symbolizing the oil from the menorah used in the Temple. This may include latkes or potato pancakes (with apple sauce topping) and jelly donuts. Stock up on potatoes, apples, onions, sweet potatoes, citrus fruit, honey, and walnuts. Chocolate gelt, a candy is also popular.

Celebrate Citrus: Tangerines are in full swing and very popular as stocking stuffers, gifts and all around daily snacking. Satsumas, Fairchilds, Orlandos and Clementines are all in great supply and never fail to impress with their amazing flavor. Grapefruit and navel oranges are also popular items at this time of year. Highlight your new seasonal fresh citrus items by building big citrus endcaps or placing bins of satsumas or bagged grapefruit in the entryway of your store.

Dried Fruit & Nuts: Holiday season is the time for these categories to shine. Build up a display to include shelled nuts, nuts-in shell and various dried fruits such as raisins, prunes, persimmon, dates and jujube. Provide a delicious fruit cake recipe for easy reference.

Convenience Items: Holiday season also means holiday party season. Make it easy for both guests and hosts to shop with a well-stocked fresh cut display and plenty of options for grab-and-go meals. Precut veggies, mirepoix mix, veggie spirals, riced veggies, cooked beets, and bagged salad mixes are all popular items. Don’t forget to order up on seasonal floral bouquets for the perfect hostess gift.

Party Platters: If your deli department has the resources to offer party platters, get on this trend! Veggie platters, fruit trays, cheese plates, wraps and sandwiches are great items to offer during the holiday season.

Follow these tips for a successful holiday season. Reach out to your Account Manager for additional merchandising and planning assistance. It’s not too early to think about New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day planning. Check back for merchandising and display tips in our next Produce Notes.

The History of Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is synonymous with celebrations around food and sharing the bounty with friends and family. It is believed that the first Thanksgiving occurred in 1621, a three-day feast between Plymouth colonists and Wampanoag Indians to celebrate the bountiful corn harvest that year. It was celebrated on and off after that but it wasn’t until 1863 that President Abraham Lincoln declared a national Thanksgiving Day be held each November.

This first Thanksgiving meal may have included fowl and deer on the menu, although there is no record of what the actual menu was. Historians believed that many of the dishes were likely prepared using traditional Native American spices and cooking methods. However, the Pilgrims had no oven and there was little sugar available, so it’s likely the menu did not feature desserts or sweets.

Today, Thanksgiving feasts look very different although they still focus on cooking and sharing the bounty with others. Turkey has become a staple item—nearly 90% of Americans eat it in one preparation or another. Popular sides may include cranberry, chestnut stuffing, mashed potato, greens and of course, pies. With the merging of various cultures, “traditional” Thanksgiving dishes continue to change and evolve. No matter the dish, there’s no denying that Americans love to cook on this holiday—make sure you’re stocked and ready!

 

Keep a lookout for our staff picks noted in orange.

 

Fruit

Apple

We’re at the peak of the season and you’ll see no fewer than 30 varieties on our list, including heirloom options. Our selection constantly changes as we bring to you new varieties when they become available. Check out our apple guide for a complete breakdown of our apple listing. We’re seeing sharp pricing on locally grown bags of Fuji, Gala and Pink Lady. There is also competitive pricing on early Fuji bins from Cuyama Orchards. These taste great and will keep you well stocked through the holiday rush.

Avocado

California grown Hass is expected to continue for a few more weeks. Larger sizes are becoming very limited. #2 fruit is steady; mostly small sizes are available. A growers strike in Mexico is impacting prices and availability on Mexican grown fruit. Overall, market prices are expected to increase and may last through November and December. Rumors are that California grown Bacon avocado will start in a few weeks

Berry

Tis the season for cranberries! Supply is plentiful and should continue steadily through December. Shoppers will be looking for this key holiday ingredient. Stock up for Thanksgiving festivities. Raspberry and blackberry supply from Mexico is not consistent but should be steady. Local strawberries are still going for a bit longer. We’ll supplement with fruit from the Oxnard region in Southern California and eventually Baja, California towards the end of the month. There should be no gaps in supply. Blueberry supply from California is limited, but imported Chilean blueberry supply is expected to improve.

Citrus

California lemons have good volume. Meyer lemons are steady. California limes from biodynamic grower, Beck Grove are plentiful. This small, family-owned farm in San Diego County grows some of the best citrus in the state! Navels have started; the fruit is clean. California Valencia are just about done. We’ll see early Mexican grown Valencia next week. Cara Cara will be coming on at the beginning of December. Satsuma tangerine are in good supply and tasting great. We’ll see more growers come on mid-month or later.  Grapefruit remains steady.

Grape

With the rain holding out, the grape season is continuing a little longer. Some growers are winding down but we still have supply of seedless red, black and some green. The last of the Concord are here; grab some of this flavorful grape before it’s done for the season!

Kiwi

California grown kiwi is steady. The green kiwi is the very popular Hayward variety. We love the sweet tangy flavor and vibrant green flesh. Gold kiwi is also readily available. This variety is trademarked by the grower, Wild River Fruit, as Tropikiwi (you may see this name on the box.)  Although the flesh is not as golden-yellow as the name implies, due to young vines, the flavor is sweeter, slightly tropical and less tart than green kiwifruit. The gold also has less fuzz on the outer skin than green kiwi.

Mango

Tommy Atkins are here and available. Ataulfo has good availability. Fair Trade Ataulfo is also available—let your Account Manager know if you’re interested.

Melon

Watermelon, honeydew and mixed melon from Mexico are trickling in. The full season will ramp up mid-November.

Persimmon

Fuyu season is in full swing. Supply is readily available. Hachiya is just starting up. Do you know the difference between the two varieties? Fuyu are short, squat and non-astringent. They can be eaten when firm and crisp. Fuyu are round, elongated and astringent. The high levels of tannins makes the Hachiya unpalatable it eaten before completely ripened. Fully ripe, they are creamy and very sweet.

Pomegranate

Pomegranate have strong supply. Many sizes are available, including bins! Arils are readily available in different pack types—this is a great grab-and-go item to stock for the Thanksgiving holiday.

Specialty Fruit

Passionfruit is continuing with steady supply. Red dragon fruit is available. Look for more white dragon fruit coming soon. Yuzu is available for a limited time. This traditional Japanese citrus is used almost exclusively for its aromatic rind. Quince is readily available.

 

Vegetables

Artichoke

Artichoke supply is strong from local growers. Pricing is competitive. Volume deals are available; talk to your Account Manager if interested!

Asparagus

Green asparagus availability is expected to improve. Purple asparagus is readily available as are green and purple tips.

Bean

Local green beans are winding down. There may be a gap in supply before Mexico starts up. Purple, Romano and yellow specialty beans have better availability.

Broccoli/Cauliflower

Broccoli has strong, steady supply.  Cauliflower is readily available; especially purple, green and orange. Romanesco also has strong volume.

Brussels Sprout

California grown Brussels sprouts are in good supply. Prices are competitive which is just in time for Thanksgiving! This popular veggie shows up in many forms for holiday celebrations—roasted, sautéed, steamed and even raw preparations for slaws and salads!

Celery

Celery has strong and steady supply; this is expected to continue.

Cucumber

Persian cucumbers are steady. Slicer cucumbers are in good supply; prices are finally coming down. English Hothouse are plentiful.

Eggplant

California grown Globe has great supply. Mexico grown Globe has also started. There should be no gaps in supply as we head into the holiday season. Japanese eggplant is also available.

Greens & Lettuce

Chard supply remains tight. Dino aka lacinato, green kale, red kale and collards continue to have steady volume. Bunched arugula is in good supply. Spinach is more prone to mildew at this time of year but so far, quality has been looking strong. Both box and bunched spinach are a little limited but should be steady. Romaine and romaine hearts continue to be tight. Green and red butter and green and red leaf have steady availability. Iceberg is not consistent. Dill is readily available. Parsley is steady. Cilantro remains in good supply. Tarragon is still in a production gap.

Mushrooms

With the current dry weather, cultivated mushroom supply remains steady. However, the absence of rain has also created very limited availability for specialty wild mushrooms. Rain spurs the growth of wild mushrooms, but at the same time, the moisture causes growth of unfavorable bacteria that compromises the compost used in cultivated mushrooms. It is a double edge mushroom sword, indeed! Mushrooms are a popular ingredient for Thanksgiving and savory fall dishes. Keep your mushroom display stocked and plentiful.

Pea

Sugar snap peas are steady. Taste tests revealed great crunch and good flavor. We may see a small shot of English peas soon.

Pepper

California green bells are still going; prices are sharp. Mexican orange and yellow bells are limited. California red choice bells has good volume and price; quality is great. Mexican red choice is very limited. Jalapeños are extremely limited; expect prices to go up. However, Serranos are in great supply and Poblanos are a bit steadier.

Root

California parsnip is ramping up. Rutabaga is plentiful. Turnip supply is steady; prices are coming down a bit. Jicama is done for the season due to quality issues. Bunched baby white turnips have good volume. We love the mild and sweet flavor of this variety.

 

Squash

Local zucchini is still going strong. Pricing is low. We’re seeing some beautiful specialty squash from Hollister grower Veliz Organic Farm. Check out our listing which includes: Yellow 8 Ball, Crookneck, Gold Zucchini and a mixed medley for when you want a little of everything. In hard squash land, Butternut is in good supply. Prices are going down. Delicata has steady supply. Acorn, Kabocha (red, green and grey) and Spaghetti are readily available. Looking for some specialty hard squash to boost your display? Check out Angel Hair Spaghetti, Butterkin, Carnival and Jahrradale. Jahrradale is a cross between a Blue Hubbard and a Cinderella pumpkin. It has distinctive blue-gray skin and thick orange flesh—making for a nice pop of color. Angel Hair Spaghetti is smaller than a standard Spaghetti squash with even finer strands of flesh. Don’t forget to talk to your Account Manager about hard squash prebuilt pallets for the Thanksgiving rush!

Tomato

One and two-layer slicer tomatoes are limited. Tomatoes-on-vine are also limited. Local Roma prices are way up. Open pint cherry tomatoes are just about done. Heirlooms are winding down.

 

Nuts

Chestnuts are in steady supply in both jumbo and colossal sizes. Heath Ranch did a fabulous job sorting and the colossal size will knock your socks off; they are gorgeous. Fresh chestnuts can be prepared in any number of ways—roasted, steamed, boiled, deep fried and even microwaved! Don’t forget to score the skin of a fresh chestnut before cooking to allow steam to escape and prevent exploding chestnuts. Check out this creamy chestnut soup with crispy prosciutto. Fresh chestnuts are tough to crack, but this soup is worth it!

 

Floral

Full Belly Farm has Sunflowers for a limited amount of time. Dried floral bouquets and dried wreaths from Full Belly Farm are now available. We wait all year for these unique handmade arrangements—no two are alike! These are great for holiday centerpieces and hostess gifts! Thomas Farm is continuing with Sunflowers and mixed bouquets (cutie and seasonal). The last day to get your Thanksgiving floral orders in for Thomas Farm is Monday, November 12th. Only bouquets will be offered for orders during the week of Thanksgiving. There will be no orders shipped November 25th through December 1st.

Grocery

Eggnog has arrived and flying off the shelves! Get your preorders in now for the Thanksgiving rush. We’re offering eggnog from Straus Family Creamery and Alexandre Family Farm—both are creamy, delicious and downright addictive!

Alexandre Family Farm is our newest dairy producer. This family-owned and -operated farm is located in Crescent City in California’s Del Norte County. The farm operates four grass-based organic dairies with crossbred cows that produce milk that contains A2/A2 beta-casein protein. This protein is present in human milk and is easier for most people to digest. The farm uses old-fashioned methods and simple ingredients combined with a holistic approach to farming to produce some of the most delicious dairy products we’ve ever tasted. Check out their 6% butterfat whole milk (yes, 6%!), flavored milks (vanilla, chocolate, ginger turmeric), cream-top yogurt, and pastured eggs.

With the arrival of fall, we can officially say its maple season again! We offer a full line of organic maple products including maple syrup in various size packs, maple sugar candy, and whipped maple cream from Maple Valley Co-Op, a growers co-op. All Maple Valley products are certified organic and free of additives, preservatives, and formaldehyde as well as being kosher certified and vegan.

 

Merchandising Corner

Thanksgiving Merchandising Tips

It’s time to transform your department and get into the full swing of Thanksgiving. Start building up those displays of sweet potatoes, yellow onions, russets, butternut squash, satsumas and persimmons. These items will start moving in larger volumes through Thanksgiving. Bigger displays is an easy way to increase sales. When customers see more product to select from, they are more likely to buy more of their favorites like satsumas and staples items like sweet potatoes.

Customers have been waiting since spring for the return of satsumas. Capitalize on this early season, high-demand item by placing them in a heavy traffic area such as the entryway. They make for a bright and attractive display. Satsumas are generally a higher priced item that customers buy in large amounts and buy consistently throughout their growing season. Keeping a well-stocked larger display will keep this product moving for you, keep your customers happy and increase you department sales.

Sweet potatoes and yellow onions are not only key produce picks for Thanksgiving but also staple items in the kitchen during the fall and winter months. These are hardy, low maintenance products that are easy to manage so don’t be shy about ordering larger amounts and going bigger on the displays. Potato and onion displays don’t need to be rotated everyday but should be checked daily for soft, breaking down or sprouting product. Keeping your display free of undesirable product is important to keep these items moving.

On the Monday before Thanksgiving, start stocking up on your other holiday items like Brussels sprouts, celery, cranberries, mushrooms, green beans, Italian parsley and all the other culinary herbs. If you have access to your last year’s sales information, use it!  Tracking the amounts sold the previous year can help you dial in your order amounts for this year. Be optimistic and plan for a slight increase over what you sold last year. A good rule of thumb is 2% growth over the previous year. Following these holiday tips should help you have a successful Thanksgiving season.