Posts Tagged “specialty produce”
Among specialty produce items gaining in popularity with U.S. consumers are Asian vegetables and tropical items.
“What is interesting about the specialty category is the crossover between the products and which category they fall into,” said Alex Jackson Berkley, assistant sales manager for Frieda’s, based in Los Alamitos, CA, who recently appeared in a feature in the trade publication The Packer.
“Many fruit items that are popular in the Asian culture are also common in the Latin culture, like dragon fruit (photograph), lychee, rambutan, jackfruit and mangosteen.
“The Asian vegetable category has taken off as many people are becoming more familiar with the items through Asian restaurants,” Jackson Berkley said in The Packer.
“Retailers are looking to compete with the big Asian retailers by bringing in a variety of Asian items at a low retail price. This is going beyond bok choy and napa cabbage. Items like bittermelon, Chinese okra, gai lan and Chinese long beans are more common in the retail (setting).”
World Variety Produce of Los Angeles, which markets under the Melissa’s brand, has seen increasing interest in turmeric, petite baby bok choy and petite Shanghai bok choy, among other Asian items, while jackfruit continues on an upward trajectory despite its massive size.
“The trendiest fruit of them all in the category of tropicals is definitely the jackfruit,” Robert Schueller of Melissa’s added in The Packer article. “It has so much potential.”
“The only problem with the jackfruit and why not every retailer is carrying it is because it’s the largest of all fruit,” Schueller said. “These fruits are typically at least 12 pounds, but on average they are around 20 pounds.”
When the retail price is $2-3 per pound, jackfruit quickly becomes quite pricey.
“It’s a value when it’s per pound, but the thing is that retailers don’t want to deal with cutting it up because there’s a whole art to doing that … It would be considered kind of a tricky fruit to handle,” Schueller said.
Jackson Berkley also noted turmeric and jackfruit as growth items, particularly due to the plant-based eating trend.
Schueller attributed much of the buzz around jackfruit to its use among vegans as a meat substitute.
Both Jackson Berkley and Schueller mentioned dragon fruit has been a hot item as well.
HLB Specialities of Fort Lauderdale, FL report papayas and rambutan are best-sellers for the company, with rambutan experiencing the most growth since HLB began offering it three years ago.
Ecoripe Tropicals of Medley, FL points out rambutan, dragon fruit, durian, longan, lychee, mangosteen and soursop are among the items drawing the most interest for the company.
The coming months should be good for hauling imported Chilean grapes arriving at U.S. ports on both coasts….Meanwhile, a number of specialty produce items are popular for the Chinese New Year celebrated in February.
Imported Chilean grapes are expected to be arriving at U.S. ports with more volume than in recent years, although arrivals this winter started about a week or two later than a year ago, when arrivals were earlier than normal.
Imports to North America from Chile continues to increase accounting for a larger share of the volume. About 39,000 tons had been shipped this season from Chile through early January, down from 79,000 at the same time last year. But as mentioned, the grapes matured later this season in Chile.
Observers believe the overall grape volume will exceed 90-million cartons, which would be slightly more than average. Arrivals are now coming in good volume, with a steady flow of produce continuing through April. For several years, North American imports have accounted for about 45 percent of the Chilean grapes, that number has been approach 50 percent more recently.
Chinese New Year items
Specialty produce items popular for Chinese New Year promotions should be in good supply for the weeks surrounding the February 16 holiday. The holiday festival itself lasts for two weeks celebrating the Year of the Dog.
Among the items that will be shipped are ginger, bok choy, gai lan and other Asian vegetables, as well as citrus items such as pummelo, kumquats and Buddha’s hand, dragonfruit and young coconut, as well as Snow peas and snap peas. Other items sometimes connected to the holiday are Turmeric, Chinese long beans, daikon, starfruit, jackfruit, yu choy and lokam oranges.
World Variety Produce of Los Angeles markets under the Melissa’s brand and is one of the largest shippers of specialty produce items in the U.S. The company is sourcing leafy greens from California, other vegetables from Mexico and fruit from tropical areas.
Thomas Fresh of Calgary, Alberta is a produce repacker who handles produce specialty an other fresh items.
(Photo was taken by Bill Martin during an 11-day trip Chile in January 1992.)