Not long after we last connected, the labor dispute that had brought ports on the West Coast to a virtual standstill was settled. We had mentioned concerns about possible quality issues and our commitment to checking closely to be sure that if any occurred, we wouldn’t let them pass through to you.
I’m happy to report we don’t see any quality issues being a concern for a few reasons: The dock workers have made great progress in getting things moving, ports are slowly returning to normal and besides, winter is almost over and we get to move closer to home to find fresh food anyway!
Then there was that severe winter weather on the eastern seaboard creating an abundance of product as demand dropped when East Coast shoppers couldn’t get to their local markets as frequently as usual. This resulted in some unusual values here on the West Coast. We’re seeing that tighten up now that the East is thawing out and demand is on the rise, and the fact that we’re in the seasonal transition from the Mexican and Arizona winter growing areas to California and Canada. The demand that ramps up for the Easter holiday is also contributing to that tightening. But the good news is that this should be short-lived because the early spring weather is bringing crops on earlier than usual in the new growing areas.
Citrus items continue to be fantastic! The season is slowly winding down and some of your favorites will start to disappear as we move into April. One in particular is the Sumo mandarin. We have secured what we hope will carry us through the Easter holiday, but I can’t guarantee that! Regardless, plenty of great eating options remain in citrus – Florida grapefruit, Heirloom navel oranges, Golden Nugget mandarins, minneolas and Melo Gold grapefruit.
Fresh asparagus has already transitioned from Mexico to California growing areas in both organic and conventional. We should enjoy a couple of strong weeks from this area, but as we move closer to Easter the demand will increase across the entire country – asparagus is one of the more popular dinner veggies on the Easter menu. We still expect Washington-grown asparagus to start up a week or two earlier than usual sometime in April. As always, we move our sources closer to home as soon as supply and availability make that possible.
April brings on the Canadian hothouse tomato season and is when the biggest and best of the slicing tomatoes arrive. These tomatoes are so big are that one slice will cover the bun on that burger. My favorite thing to do is to cut nice thick slice, douse it in Garlic Expressions dressing, salt and pepper and eat it like a steak! In the meantime, we have an excellent-tasting organic tomato in the Tastilee brand that we’ve been able to promote this month. It’s not as big as the Canadian hothouse variety, but these tomatoes have excellent flavor!
Green Globe artichokes have been off to a slow start this spring season. We were hoping to have been able to offer a couple promotions by now but that hasn’t been possible. The good news is that there is light at the end of the tunnel and it looks like supply is picking up. I expect several promotional opportunities as we move closer to April and throughout the entire month. Just a reminder, the biggest artichokes arrive during April and then begin to size down as we move into May. As always we will offer the largest chokes available – watch for these to show up on Big Board Buys soon!
Have a great week, Joe