Author Archives: Veritable Vegetable

Extending Shelf Life

Retail display at Sacramento Natural Foods

With the holidays looming, properly receiving and storing your produce is of the utmost importance. As a very perishable item, produce needs to be received and stored in the right temperature zone as quickly as possible to reduce loss of product quality. Oliver Wyman, an international retail consulting firm published in a 2014 report titled “A Retailer’s Recipe, Fresher Food and Far Less Shrink”* in which they noted, “Customers who are satisfied with freshness will spend 33% more in the produce department of their primary store compared to those who are not satisfied. At the same time, customers will spend 8% more of their total grocery spend exclusively with the retailers whose produce they are pleased with than the shoppers who are not happy with that store’s produce.”

Receiving

  • When an order arrives at your store, sign the invoice or packing list; keep one copy for the store and return one to the driver.
  • Review the order for accuracy and damaged product including:
    • Quantity and sizes ordered match product received.
    • Quality meets store standards (note if any issues exist and if credits/returns are needed.)
    • Keep any notes with the invoice and communicate with the vendor in a timely manner to resolve issues.
  • Make sure received product is logged for accounting purposes.

Storage

  • Organize and clean coolers and dry storage areas in preparation of a delivery.
  • Never put product directly on the floor to avoid exposure to contaminants.
  • Use a standard dating system for each box as it enters the store; when storing, ensure the date faces out so older produce is pulled first. Educate everyone in the department to understand the dating system.
  • Understand the proper storage area for each item of produce.

 

 

*The full Produce Department Manual can be found at veritablevegetable.com in the Customer Toolbox.

Getting into the Holiday Swing

With November under way, we all know this is one of the industry’s busiest times of the year.
staff-favorites-11-4-2016 Thanksgiving is a holiday where we depend on both key and specialty produce items being available to satisfy our customer’s needs. Now is the time to start letting your Account Manager know what those needs are.

It is looking like the market will be good for all your top movers of the month; green beans and Brussels sprouts will be in strong supply if the weather holds! We have excellent Ad pricing for the month on these holiday items and others, and sharp pricing for our apple category, as well, so check out our lists daily!  Get your projections in so you don’t run short. In addition to the classics this month, we have a variety of specialty items available. If you are looking for some extra zest for your market or your menu, then check out our specialty citrus featuring Buddha’s hand citron, Centennial Variegated kumquats, limequats and finger limes.

New to our mushroom mix is Porcini, a worthy competitor or compliment to the traditional turkey dinner.

Our root selection became even more enticing since we added a 25 pound option for Watermelon Daikon.

If you are looking for pallet or half pallet deals on any items let us know and we will see what we can do for you!

Fruit

Apple and Pear

It’s November and Cripps Pink (Pink Lady) apples from Washington are here! Cripps Pink are known for their distinctive sweet and tart flavor. Cuyama Orchards in California and the rest of the Washington growers should be available mid-November. Don’t fret, we will have plenty of Granny Smith apples on hand, too. Look for some great apple deals for the Thanksgiving holiday. Another alternative apple that bursts with flavor is the Opal. The Opal is a golden color with light russetting on the stem end. It has wonderful flavor, a floral aroma and is a great all-purpose apple- perfect for sampling in store. In other apple news, heirloom apples are winding down. Be sure to pick up the last of available varieties from two specialty growers; Winesap and Arkansas Black from Heirloom Orchards and White Permain from Oz Farms.  Cuyama Orchards will harvest Arkansas Black apples later in the season.

Pear supply is winding down. Bluebird will still be packing Bartletts for the next few weeks but sizing will be limited. We also still have Comice, Bosc, Anjou and Starkrimson.

Berry

‘Tis the season for cranberries! We have good supply and sharp prices to kick off the season. We offer a variety of pack types to meet your needs for the holiday season.

Watsonville strawberry supply has washed away with the recent rain storms. Supply from the Santa Maria region on the California coast is bouncing back slowly but overall production has shrunk and prices have increased as a result. Import blueberry season has kicked off, and for something different, check out our air-freighted, Demeter certified biodynamic blueberries from Chile.

Citrus

Pauma Valley Citrus reported that their Valencia season has never ended so early. This is entirely due to our strong support!  Sespe Creek, and Buck Brand will also be winding down in the next two weeks. Navel oranges and Satsuma mandarins are hitting the scene! Keep an eye out for Heath Ranch, Valliwide and Buck Brand satsumas in the next two weeks. And don’t forget about those cute little 5 pound gift boxes of satsumas for the holidays.

Pauma Valley Citrus may be running out of Valencia oranges, but they started picking lemons this week. Expect to see more lemon availability and sharper pricing later on. Meyer lemons are slowly coming on and supplies are somewhat limited. Our California lime growers have a great product at equally great prices. Grapefruit is still tight and prices are holding, but the Juju Be label is starting up. Other grapefruit growers should be coming on in a few more weeks, too. If you are looking for some specialty items for your program, we have some great items trickling in, including: Buddha’s hand citron, finger limes, Makrut Limes, limequats and even a few key limes!

Grape

Anthony’s Organic still has good supply on red, green, and black grapes. The quality and flavor is strong. We should be in good supply through Thanksgiving.

Kiwi

Kiwi supply is steady and pricing has dropped for the holidays. Don’t forget to check out kiwi bins to get some volume into your stores- they never disappoint!

Mango

Tommy Atkins mangos are very limited right now. Altaulfo mangos are available in mostly small sizes. Larger sized fruit is available but extremely limited. We may see a break in product in the coming weeks so now is a good time to stock up.

Melon

Fall melon production in Mexico has kicked off and we have mini seedless watermelons and cantaloupes! Honeydews are just around the corner. The fall production in Mexico will carry through November.

Persimmon

Persimmons are in season and they should be on your shelf adding the perfect orange pop of color you are looking for.  Both Fuyus and Hachiyas are super tasty right now with excellent pricing. This is great item for ad or special.

Pomegranate

Supply of pomegranate is plentiful. Larger sizes are a bit limited but available. The fruit has been sweet and the arils are deep red in color. Did you know you can buy just the arils? We sell them in both retail and food service packs.

Nuts

New crop walnuts are here in both shelled halves and pieces.  We also have in-shell Hartley walnuts from Ferrari Farms. A perfect addition to your fall displays. Chestnuts are here and in good supply for all the Thanksgiving and holiday menus! We have huge jumbo sized chestnuts from Heath Ranch, as well as other sizes at attractive per pound prices.

Vegetables

Artichoke

Artichoke supply is limited. We are seeing minimal amounts of the smaller sized chokes, and larger sized chokes are almost non-existent. Vendors are forecasting an increase in product by mid-November, but in the meantime, expect prices to be on the rise.

Asparagus

There is plenty of Mexican grown asparagus available. With great availability and aggressive pricing, this is a great ad item. We are even hearing there may be asparagus through Thanksgiving.

Bean

Green bean supplies are looking very promising for Thanksgiving this year! Our growers in the deserts of Southern California are reporting beautiful growth in their fields which will be in strong supply up until the week of Thanksgiving. Mexico-grown beans are set to start up the week before Thanksgiving. As long as the weather holds clear in California’s Coachella Valley we will have no gap in our green bean supply. Get your holiday pre-orders in to your Account Manager early; we have pallet and ½ pallet deals available!

Broccoli

We anticipate the low pricing we’re seeing in the broccoli category will be continuing into the Thanksgiving holiday. There is plenty of product for the picking that still has the consistent quality we love to see.

Brussels Sprout

We’re seeing great supply of Brussel sprouts this season. We’re keeping our fingers crossed that this supply will stay steady through the Thanksgiving holiday. The quality has been perfect. Clean, no bugs. Depending on availability in the coming weeks, the price can be competitive.

Cabbage

Green cabbage has its time to shine in the holiday madness!  We have sharp prices and stellar quality to add to your orders. Keep in mind the Red cabbage, Napa and Savoy are all available and also great for the fall season.

Cactus

Nopales (leaves) will continue into December with the leaves plumping up from the recent rains as we speak. While the rain has benefited the leaves and bolstered their growth, the ripening fruit is not nearly as appreciative. The green fruit currently on the cactus should ripen nicely over the next two weeks, but the grower is predicting that he will only be able to harvest one or two more rounds. This season was quick, but hopefully next year’s crop will be more abundant and longer lasting.

Cauliflower

We have seen an increase in the amount of 12 count white cauliflower on the scene this year, when in the past 16 count seemed to be the preference. The flooding of 12 count supply means vendors are offering low pricing so be sure to watch that item as it may become HOT for the holidays. Cauliflower steak is all the rage!

Celery

A Thanksgiving favorite, celery will start flying off the shelves faster than you can say stalks! We should see great supply coming from our vendors so don’t hesitate to get some pallet orders ready.

Cucumber

Local slicing cucumbers are almost done and Mexico’s crops are here in strong volume. Prices are low but set to rise as we get closer to the Thanksgiving holiday. Slicing cucumber crops typically start with very high yields right out of the gate and then taper off about 2-3 weeks after the initial harvests as the plants age. With California just wrapping up and Mexico in its initial heavy flush, we should see prices start to rise the week of Thanksgiving and then spike to the mid-forties/low-fifties by early December.

Greens

Supply is steady as well as price on both baby and full sized bok choy. This is a great time of year to keep bok choy on your shelves for customers looking to make hearty soups and stews, as well as stir-fries.

Bunched greens are in steady supply. As classic staples, make sure to keep your racks stocked.  We all need our vitamins!

Leek

Leek supply and pricing is holding steady, and quality has been strong. This is another great fall item to keep stocked through the holidays.

Lettuce, Retail Greens and Herb

The October transition period for boxed greens came and went without any major incidents. Although the transition is not 100% complete yet, the majority of our product is now coming from the Imperial Valley/Yuma regions of Southern California and Arizona. The Salad Farm will be the last, with full production starting in their brand new facility in Yuma as of November 14th.

We have sad news to report in retail greens this week. Due to increasing production costs, Taylor Farms has decided to discontinue their organic 6×5 ounce retail salad bags. This includes spring mix, baby spinach, wild arugula, and Italian salad blend. We are currently exploring additional retail salads options, including organic chopped salads.

Bunched herbs are a very high seller in the fall and winter as they are in great demand from customers through the holiday cooking season so keep your shelves stocked! Low pricing will make these ever more attractive to buy as we get closer to December.

Mushroom

Porcini mushrooms are starting to come in from foragers in Northern California, Oregon, and Washington. Porcini (“piglet” in Italian) are highly prized among chefs and gourmands for their deeply rich flavor and smooth, meaty-yet-delicate texture. In this part of the world, they are typically found under pine, chestnut, hemlock, and spruce trees in late fall and again in late spring for about one month. Porcinis are also known as the “King Bolete” or “King of Mushrooms” as they are an industry unto themselves. It is estimated that anywhere from 20,000 to 100,000 tons are harvested and sold globally each year.

Onion

As we enter into the official holiday season, the onion market is heating up faster than you can pre-heat the oven for your holiday turkey (or portobello! Our yellow medium onion price is better than anything we’re offered in the last five holiday seasons, so book those pallets now before they sell out! Throw on a couple layers of pearl onions and cippolinis, while you’re at it.

Pepper

We have a very strong supply of bell peppers available in every color and size. Locally grown red bells are on their way out, but we have plenty of reds, oranges, and yellows from Wholesum Harvest and they’re looking stellar at the start of their season. Green bells are also very plentiful from California growers and as a result prices are down. Growers in the Coachella Valley began harvesting this week and quality from these first picks have been excellent.

Local chili peppers are in their last few weeks but Del Cabo has a very strong supply of Baja-grown chili peppers whenever you’re ready to make the transition.

Potato

Sweet potatoes are a very popular item for this time of year and we are moving through them fast! Did you know that you can get mixed pallets of sweet potatoes prebuilt for a cheaper price? This is a great way to get what you need for the Thanksgiving holiday. A mixed pallet may include: Japanese sweets, Hannah sweets, Garnets, and Jewels, most offered in different grades, sizes or price points.

Root

We are so happy that Hawaiian ginger is back! We have galangal and young white ginger available now, too, and young yellow ginger will be available in a couple of weeks.

Hawaiian turmeric is available this week. Prices are a bit higher this season but should mellow out in the coming weeks. California turmeric is limited as production is gearing up.

Holiday stress building up? Take the magical health benefits of burdock root, add the brilliant colors of gold, red and chioggia beets, and top it off with the refreshing, juicy crunch of jicama and blast those blues away! Fall is the most exciting time of year for root crops, and whether you need a boost to your immune system or some color to spruce up your displays, you can find it all in our wide selection of healthy, in-season root crops. While beet production is waning in California, the Northwest is just hitting its stride not only for beets, but also for burdock, rutabaga, turnip, and parsnip.

Local watermelon daikon is abundant right now as well, with Coke Farms leading the pack in both quality and price.

Specialty Vegetables

Last call for tomatillos! Local tomatillos are winding down and will only be available until the first frost. Get in your order before we’re completely out.

Squash

Zucchini and other specialty soft squash are still rolling in droves from local growers. Mexico’s supply has come on earlier than usual this year, so the market is flooded and prices have bottomed out. Local zucchini will continue to be available until the first frost, which some growers are guessing will be in the 3rd week of November.

No other crop captures the essence of autumn festivities and gatherings like winter squash. We have a great selection of squash, from the adorably sized, darkly tanned honeynut to the chestnut-flavored, richly creamy buttercup. Check out all that we have to offer and don’t forget to ask your Account Manager for availability and pricing on mixed squash, butternut, and pie pumpkin bins for that volume and pricing you are looking for.

Tomato

Local tomatoes are almost done, and heirloom tomatoes are extremely limited as the rains have caused much of the fruit left on the vines to split and spoil in the field. We are still seeing some California supply trickle in, but they will likely not last until Thanksgiving. Dry Farmed Early Girls are done for the year and locally grown, open-pint cherry tomatoes are officially done as well. One-layer slicing tomatoes in the Pinnacle label will be available for another week or two and will start to wind down rapidly as the days shorten and the nights get colder. However, Mexico’s tomato crops are gearing up for a strong season so we should have a very smooth tomato transition this year.

 

Dairy

If you haven’t tried Straus Family Creamy eggnog yet, now is the time! This delicious beverage is only available for the holiday season.  It never disappoints.

 

Floral

Plan ahead for your holiday flower orders! Fresh floral orders from Thomas Farm for the week of Thanksgiving must be placed by Monday, November 7th, 4pm. Any orders placed after this date will be for December 1st and later.  We will try to fill late orders, but Thomas Farm will fill those requests last, so think ahead.

Dried bouquets and dried wreaths from Full Belly Farms can be also preordered through the holidays, subject to availability. They are absolutely gorgeous, and each one is different.  We will carry inventory for the dried flowers, so ask if we have any in stock if you haven’t pre-ordered.

 

Merchandising Corner: Extending Shelf Life

With the holidays looming, properly receiving and storing your produce is of the utmost importance. As a very perishable item, produce needs to be received and stored in the right temperature zone as quickly as possible to reduce loss of product quality. Oliver Wyman, an international retail consulting firm published in a 2014 report titled “A Retailer’s Recipe, Fresher Food and Far Less Shrink”* in which they noted, “Customers who are satisfied with freshness will spend 33% more in the produce department of their primary store compared to those who are not satisfied. At the same time, customers will spend 8% more of their total grocery spend exclusively with the retailers whose produce they are pleased with than the shoppers who are not happy with that store’s produce.”

Receiving

  • When an order arrives at your store, sign the invoice or packing list; keep one copy for the store and return one to the driver.
  • Review the order for accuracy and damaged product including:
    • Quantity and sizes ordered match product received.
    • Quality meets store standards (note if any issues exist and if credits/returns are needed.)
    • Keep any notes with the invoice and communicate with the vendor in a timely manner to resolve issues.
  • Make sure received product is logged for accounting purposes.

Storage

  • Organize and clean coolers and dry storage areas in preparation of a delivery.
  • Never put product directly on the floor to avoid exposure to contaminants.
  • Use a standard dating system for each box as it enters the store; when storing, ensure the date faces out so older produce is pulled first. Educate everyone in the department to understand the dating system.
  • Understand the proper storage area for each item of produce.

 

*The full Produce Department Manual can be found at veritablevegetable.com in the Customer Toolbox.

What’s a tangerine? What’s a mandarin?

Officially known as citrus reticulata blanco, “mandarin” and “tangerine” are two names for the staff-favoritessame variety of fruit. They are native to Southeast Asia and came to the US through North Africa. The name “mandarin” gained popularity because the fruit was thought to be native to China; while the name “tangerine” gained traction because it was thought to have come from Tangiers.

There are a million varieties of mandarins out there and we are kicking off the season with the satsuma, a loose-skinned seedless, early maturing variety which originated in Japan. We suggest never hesitating to go big on your satsuma display or end cap this season! For colorful and seasonal contrast add pomegranates, persimmons and in-shell walnuts and watch your sales soar.

Rather than simply answering dozens of taste questions, consider the power of using flavor descriptors to create tasteful images so your customers can understand exactly how something tastes. A satsuma could be described as “Tender, seedless, juicy with a classic rich sweet-tart (sub-acid) flavor that gets sweeter as the season progresses.” Have fun and become an expert at describing the fruits and vegetables you sell. Your customers will look to you for expertise and recommendations through the season.

 

Fruit

Avocado

The Hass avocado market is crazy short and expensive but we see the light at the end of the tunnel. Reports are that Mexico will start shipping soon in substantial quantities and prices will fall. But no one is sure how long that will take. In the meantime, we have very limited quantities of Mexican and California grown Hass, so ask your Account Manager for details. California “greenskin” Bacon are coming by early November.  Still we don’t think there will be much guacamole for the World Series baseball gatherings.

Apple and Pear

Apple season is in full swing! We have Arkansas Black from Heirloom Orchards in Mount Hood, Oregon. This aromatic apple is a lively red color, which deepens to a purplish black when ripe. Another unique and tasty heirloom apple on our roster is the Calville Blanc. This gourmet French culinary apple is simply perfect for tarts. Did you know that the Calville Blanc has more vitamin C than an orange? C’est magnifique! We also have the tiny, yet incredibly satisfying Crimson Gold from Cuyama Orchards. This little apple has a big following and won’t last long. Expect to see Pink Lady apples from Washington in the next week or two.

Pears are still in good supply. We have some great deals on Starkrimson Pears grown in Oregon. Other varieties currently available are Bartlett, D’Anjou, and Bosc. Comice pears just arrived this week. A pear lover’s pear, Comice are sweet, creamy, juicy and often known as the holiday pear!

Banana

Our bananas continue to come in with superb quality and perfect coloring. Give us a call if you are looking for a reliable and consistent supply!

Berry

Even after the recent rains, strawberry supply is steady both out of Watsonville and Santa Maria. Blackberry supply out of Santa Maria is also looking steady. Import blueberry season is kicking off, and we’ll have Chilean air-freighted blueberries starting this weekend (October 22). Also this weekend, look forward to US-grown, biodynamic certified cranberries! Import raspberry season is gearing up and is just around the corner.

Citrus

On the citrus front, the first California Satsuma mandarins are here from Capay Organic along with California Navel oranges! As Navels become abundant, the Valencia supply will wind down. Expect the California Valencia season to end for most growers in early to mid-November.

On a different note, California lemon prices have been drop, drop, dropping!  Mexico-grown lemons are still a great deal and continue to be priced competitively. California limes are in good supply. Grapefruit will remain tight until the first or second week of November as growers have reported a late start to the season. Expect prices to hold until the market becomes more saturated.

Fig

Black Mission figs from Maywood Farms are quickly winding down. We are sad to see it end, but what a wonderful season! Fortunately, we are going to see Brown turkey figs roll into the warehouse soon, keeping fig supply steady for the season.

Grape

A few of our smaller grape growers have decided to end their season due to the heavy rains we experienced over a week ago. However, there are still plenty of sweet grapes to be had. Some growers are forecasting product available through December!

Kiwi

California kiwi availability is strong while New Zealand kiwi is also in steady supply. Be sure to put some on your next order!

Mango

California Keitt mango season is officially done but mangos grown in Ecuador are readily available. We have lovely Tommy Atkins mangos and delicious Ataulfo mangoes grown in Ecuador. The flavor is awesome and supply strong. Prices should start to fall as more supply becomes available.

Melon

The fall import melon season is here! We’ll start with mini seedless watermelons followed by honeydew and cantaloupe, all grown in Mexico.

Pomegranate

We are deep into pomegranate season, which means steady supply of the Wonderful variety. Order now while prices are super competitive. The arils are red, sweet and juicy.

Specialty Fruit

We are happy the dragonfruit scene has opened up, with several spectacular colors and selections to choose from.  Fuscia, red, white and pink fleshed dragons should be in good supply for the next several weeks. Another superfood, check them out now! We are waiting impatiently for more passionfruit to come as the second bloom is not quite ready yet. But guava and sapote continue to trickle in.  We have yuzu, quince, jujube too; what fun for adventurous eaters! And don’t miss the exciting section on cactus below for info on our cactus fruit!

 

Nuts

 

An autumn favorite, in-shell Hartley walnuts from Ferrari Farms are here! Add them to your display to highlight the bounty of the season. We have the most beautiful jumbo sized chestnuts we have ever seen, measuring at two inches in diameter!  We also have more standard sizes if you can’t go top shelf.

 

Vegetables

Artichoke

This is a great time for artichokes; they’re beautiful with tight leaves. Availability is steady, although pricing have been fluctuating.  As production increases, prices will stabilize.

Asparagus

Asparagus is in full swing. We have steady supply of product from Mexico and limited product from Argentina. All sizes are available, including asparagus tips. Don’t miss out on unique and tasty purple asparagus; supply is limited so don’t wait to order. Prices are competitive.

Bean

Green beans love this milder weather and as a result we’ve got a very strong supply from some great local growers! Prices are down as availability is up, so it’s a great time to build some big, beautiful green bean stands in your produce department! Specialty beans such as Romano, cranberry, and fresh garbanzo are more limited, but they are out there! If you’re interested be sure to let your Account Manager know so they can snap them up for you when we do see a few roll in.

Beet

Rainbow bunched beets are back in action! These are a blend of gold, red and Chioggia beets which make for a beautiful display or menu item. Baby beets have also returned so be sure to order some soon!

Broccoli

The broccoli price has been extremely low for this time of year, but also very volatile!  Cheap pricing is available, but on the whole we have seen the broccoli crown price inch up regardless of the 14ct price. If you are looking for consistent pricing in the broccoli category, go for the beautiful Romanesco!

Brussel Sprouts

Winter Brussel sprout season is here and for the start of the season, they’re gorgeous! They are coming in clean with no aphids or mealy bugs! Supply is limited as the season has just begun.

Cactus

Cactus pads (nopales) are excellent quality now that the most extreme heat of the summer has subsided. Not only are the plants pushing out beautiful pads, but also the fruit, sometimes called prickly pear, tuna (the Spanish word for the fruit), or India figs. The flesh of the fruit comes in various neon shades of orange, pink and purple, and has a refreshing, sweet flavor that can be compared to a slightly tropical-tasting watermelon or slightly earthy-tasting guava. With its short season, difficult harvest and fragile flesh (our prickly pear has the big, sharp spines removed but may still have some of the tiny glochids attached), this item is available by pre-order only so ask your Account Manager for more info.

Cauliflower

Strong supply on cauliflower, both white and cheddar, is expected until the end of October! We have all sizes and even may have some graffiti and purple cauliflower. Check with your Account Manager to see what we have in stock.

Corn

Yes, corn is still around! Supply is limited, but you can still get your hands on sweet white corn grown in Colinga, California or bi-color corn grown in Washington.

Cucumber

Northern California’s cucumber crops are drying up quickly, but the good news is Mexico’s cukes are starting to roll in from the south in decent numbers! Prices are down as supply is heavy.

Eggplant

T&D Willey Farms is still harvesting their eggplant every day and is showing a very strong supply of their second grade “Sursum Corda” label in particular. The Willey’s have some of the best looking ‘choice’ product we’ve seen, so if you’re an open-minded buyer who can handle a little scratch here and there you should give them a try! We will have a special, discounted price on them for the coming weeks.  This would be a great way to keep the last bit of summer on your display or menu! Help this family farm end their season on a good note, and reduce the ‘less than cosmetically perfect’ food waste!

Globe eggplant is also starting to roll in from the California Coachella Valley with higher prices as the season begins.

Garlic and Onion

We have gorgeous specialty red hard neck garlic as well as purple stripes garlic coming soon! These varietals are grown down in the Gilroy, California area.

Enjoy a wide selection of flavor, color and size when it comes to onions this time of year!

Greens

Bok choy availability is steady. We have both full size bok choy and baby bok choy.

Leek

Leek prices are going up but quality is strong. Leeks love cold weather which results in stunning product!

Lettuce, Retail Greens and Herb

Lettuce is going strong, especially Red Leaf, which we currently have on our Weekly Specials! In addition, we have every lettuce variety you could possibly need.

This time of year, no news from the land of boxed and retail greens is always good news. October marks the beginning of the transition from the Salinas Valley growing region to the Imperial Valley and Yuma, Arizona growing regions. Depending on weather patterns in all of these regions, one early or late weather event can throw a major wrench in the gears, leading to availability and quality problems at any given moment. So far, we’ve experienced a calm transition period with no problems.

All bunched herbs look strong with sharp pricing and no end in sight. Consistent labels and quality make this a must-have for every order!

Pepper

Green bell peppers are starting to flow in from the Coachella Valley and reds won’t be too far behind! The little bit of rain we got in California does not seem to have harmed our local growers’ bell pepper crops of all colors, so there’s no supply shortage in sight. Bells from Mexico with good volume at attractive prices are still a ways off, so celebrate this local flush while you can!

Potato

Fingerlings galore! This is a great item for promotion and with all the different varieties it makes for a fun display. If you haven’t tried Russian bananas or French fingerlings, please do!  Also check out the amazing Austrian crescents.

New crop Purple stokes are back! Although the prices are a little higher than other sweet potato varieties they are well worth it! Fall is a great time to promote sweet potatoes.

Root

Burdock root is starting up from Coke Farms, in California, and the Winter Green Farms crop is just on the horizon from Oregon. Throw in some California sunchokes and we’ve got a full house in the root category.

Our supply for bunched carrots has expanded and we are now offering purple, rainbow and orange with very stable pricing across the board. Be sure to take advantage of all the choices on our list!

Our first round of Hawaiian ginger has arrived! Both young white ginger and Thai (aka galangal) are available in 5 and 30 pound packs. The flavor and aroma are amazing. Look for Hawaiian young yellow ginger in mid-November.

California-grown young turmeric is also available with Hawaiian turmeric coming at the end of November.

Squash

Despite our recent rain in California, our local supply of summer squash is still flowing heavily! Growers in Mexico have started shipping zucchini and yellow squash earlier than usual this year, so prices have fallen fast. Our local California growers will continue to have squash available until the first frost sets, so expect California zucchini to be available into November.

We have great selection and prices on California winter squash and pumpkins. We’re thrilled to offer a cornucopia of beautiful and delicious squash from some of the most veritable growers in the state including butternut from Terra Firma, delicata from Full Belly Farm, acorn and spaghetti squash from Hummingbird, Kabocha squash from Pinnacle, and sugar pie pumpkins from Durst Farm.

Don’t forget, Halloween is just a week away! If you haven’t already or just need more, order your bin of carving pumpkins.

Tomato

California’s late crops of tomatoes are fruiting nicely in general, and we’ve got a strong supply from a few lucky growers in particular! Pinnacle/Foster is rolling steadily along with their slicer tomatoes, and Coke Farm still has a strong supply of heirloom tomatoes. Cherry tomatoes are becoming harder to find, but we’re still seeing late ones trickle in from a few different local growers. Luckily, it seems a steady supply of tomatoes from Mexico isn’t far off, so we should have a nice, smooth transition this year.

 

Retail Samples as Amuse-Bouche

Amuse-bouche is a beautiful pre-meal bite or delightful surprise from the chef. In French, amuser translates to amuse and bouche means mouth. It’s an opportunity for the chef to show off their flair or introduce a new flavor concept. The amuse-bouche can be one of the most memorable moments of the meal.

Similarly, sampling in the produce department can be a delightful surprise for your shoppers; a tasting of the highest recommendation by the passionate produce crew. It’s an opportunity to show off unique varietals, your best fare, staff favorites and ad promotions. The key is demonstrating your passion. If you are excited about the produce, your customers will be too and that translates into increased average basket transactions and customer loyalty.

From simple passive samples to recipe driven demos, customers love samples. Sampling offers shoppers a chance to expand their palates with a taste of a new item. This opportunity often turns a skeptic into a happy believer and the finicky shopper into an aficionado.

It may seem like more work at first taking the time to put out daily samples but it’s work that quickly pays off.  It’s also a strategy that offers a proven return. Studies have shown that sampling can triple the daily sales of an item. Shoppers are also more likely to frequent stores they know provide samples.

Bringing your own culinary inspiration into the produce aisle not only has the potential to transform shoppers’ habits and increase sales, it offers the opportunity to turn an ordinary shopping experience into a memorable one.

Retail Samples as Amuse-Bouche

produce display

Amuse-bouche is a beautiful pre-meal bite or delightful surprise from the chef. In French, amuser translates to amuse and bouche means mouth. It’s an opportunity for the chef to show off their flair or introduce a new flavor concept. The amuse-bouche can be one of the most memorable moments of the meal.

Similarly, sampling in the produce department can be a delightful surprise for your shoppers; a tasting of the highest recommendation by the passionate produce crew. It’s an opportunity to show off unique varietals, your best fare, staff favorites and ad promotions. The key is demonstrating your passion. If you are excited about the produce, your customers will be too and that translates into increased average basket transactions and customer loyalty.

From simple passive samples to recipe driven demos, customers love samples. Sampling offers shoppers a chance to expand their palates with a taste of a new item. This opportunity often turns a skeptic into a happy believer and the finicky shopper into an aficionado.

It may seem like more work at first taking the time to put out daily samples but it’s work that quickly pays off.  It’s also a strategy that offers a proven return. Studies have shown that sampling can triple the daily sales of an item. Shoppers are also more likely to frequent stores they know provide samples.

Bringing your own culinary inspiration into the produce aisle not only has the potential to transform shoppers’ habits and increase sales, it offers the opportunity to turn an ordinary shopping experience into a memorable one.

Arugula 101

Did you know there are two types of arugula? While similar in common name and flavor, these two plants are entirely different species: arugula (eruca sativa) and wild arugula (diplotaxis tenuifolia). Arugula has been around longer than most of us. The first recorded use of arugula dates back to the Roman Empire where arugula was grown as an edible herb in the Mediterranean region.

Known for their delightfully pungent aroma, peppery-zesty flavor and elegant appearance, both plants have become increasingly popular in the fresh greens industry. Available year-round, it’s common to see either one of these varietals in stores, restaurants and markets across the country.

Many consumers do not realize there is a distinction between arugula and wild arugula. We compared both plants in the chart below, examining their most distinguishing factors. Use this as a quick guide to educate your customers. Offer a sampling program to complete the experience!

Arugula vs. Wild Arugula

arugulawild-arugula
Common Name(s)Arugula, Rocket


Wild Arugula, Wild Rocket


SpeciesEruca sativa

Diplotaxis tenuifolia

AppearanceRounded lobes; terminal lobe may become larger as is grows. Leaves are softer, light green. Flowers are yellow.More deeply lobed; lobes are elongated and slender. Leaves are darker green, more crisp. Flowers are white.
FlavorSlightly less spicy flavor

Mustard-like, intense flavor

Life Span after HarvestYellows more quickly after harvest
Longer post-harvest life