industry

  • Move Over Red

    Well over 100 apple vari­eties are com­mer­cially grown in the United States. For nearly five decades, red deli­cious apples were the con­sumer favorite.

    This year, title of con­sumer favorite will now go to the Gala apple instead of red deli­cious, which falls to the num­ber two spot.

    Apple grow­ers are tend­ing to grow more of the newer vari­eties as a reflec­tion of chang­ing con­sumer tastes. Gala apple pro­duc­tion is expected to grow almost six per­cent above last year.

    Taste, tex­ture and sweet­ness account for surg­ing gala apple pop­u­lar­ity. This out of hand fresh treat hits the mark on all cri­te­ria.

    Until the 1970s, Amer­i­cans had only a few choices of apples. Golden Deli­cious offered a color con­trast and Granny Smith brought tart­ness to the table. The iconic Red Deli­cious was the shin­ing star and heav­ily pro­moted by Wash­ing­ton state growers.

  • Now Hir­ing

    Whether your busi­ness is a top notch retail store or a casual café, upscale restau­rant or busy hotel, chances are, “we’re hir­ing” signs are posted.

    Hir­ing now and no expe­ri­ence nec­es­sary are vis­i­ble every­where. Labor con­tin­ues to be the Achillis’ heel for all seg­ments of the food indus­try.

    Cus­tomers recently viewed a dis­claimer at a local fast-​casual food estab­lish­ment. A sign on the door effec­tively apol­o­gizes for expected slow ser­vice. They go on to explain they are not fully staffed to prop­erly serve the patrons. Ouch!

    Since 2012, the United States has been on an employ­ment hot streak. 2017 saw a 4.1 per­cent unem­ploy­ment rate, down con­sid­er­ably from a recent high of 10 per­cent in 2009.

    Con­nect­ing with the right indi­vid­u­als for those unfilled posi­tions is a head scratcher. Job fairs, social media and incen­tivized recruit­ment are all part of the new hir­ing drill.
  • Shal­lot Woes

    Anthony Bour­dain cov­ered a lot of ground in his book Kitchen Con­fi­den­tial.

    One hot topic that res­onates with all line cooks is the Mise-​en-​place. The orga­nized work sta­tion, unique to each cook, keeps the kitchen ready for every order mov­ing smoothly through the line.

    It houses all of the essen­tials– sea salt, rough-​cracked pep­per, cook­ing oil, wine, but­ter, gar­lic, pars­ley, and so on.

    One item in par­tic­u­lar that Tony claimed as a Mise-​en-​Place essen­tial for all pro­fes­sional kitchens is shal­lots. His kitchen staff used about twenty pounds daily.

    A “take-​away” from Bour­dain to home cooks look­ing to ele­vate dishes, is to keep shal­lots on hand for turn­ing out tastier ver­sions of most any prepa­ra­tion.

    Shal­lots are one of those fresh ingre­di­ents that we notice parked next to fresh gar­lic and the onion sec­tions at the gro­cery store. We fre­quently see them, but bypass them for reg­u­lar onion vari­eties.

    Their del­i­cate, mild onion fla­vor (with a hint of sharp­ness) is pre­ferred for clas­sic dishes, vinai­grettes, sauces, soups and fry­ing when a hot­ter onion isn’t the right fit.
  • Taste Cal­i­for­nia

    Cal­i­for­nia avo­ca­dos have arrived! They are gen­er­ally avail­able from April to Sep­tem­ber, but for the nearly 5,000 grow­ers in the state, the avo­cado sea­son is a year-​round endeavor.

    Farm­ers walk their avo­cado groves every month to check on the trees, assess weather affects and grove con­di­tions. They must ensure avo­ca­dos are on the right track for pro­jected har­vests. Each stage in the growth cycle is crit­i­cal.

    Avo­ca­dos, grown on trees, have a tree growth cycle with six stages: flow­er­ing, shoot growth, root growth, fruit set, fruit growth, and har­vest.
    That’s a lot to watch and care for dur­ing each sea­son.

    Cal­i­for­nia pro­duces about 90 per­cent of the nation’s avo­cado crop. Ninety-​five per­cent of Cal­i­for­nia avo­ca­dos are the Hass (rhymes with pass) vari­ety.

    The Hass vari­ety accounts for about 80 per­cent of all avo­ca­dos eaten world­wide. By now, most of us under­stand that an avo­cado is actu­ally a fruit.
  • The Last Bite

    Over the years, week fifty two of our mar­ket report has been reserved for an uplift­ing mes­sage to close out the cal­en­dar.

    Like all things in 2020, the COVID cloud con­tin­ues to rain on our industry.

    The lat­est round of “shel­ter in place” orders comes just as we’re ready to shop, eat out and cel­e­brate with oth­ers. No can do.

    This year has been one for the books. As a part­ner in the food sup­ply chain, we’ve had a front row seat to the con­stant dis­rup­tions the food indus­try con­tin­ues to encounter.
    Every food sec­tor; retail­ers, restau­rants, cafes, schools, pris­ons, casi­nos, and hotels has been on a swivel. Mod­ify, pivot and adapt has been a con­stant dance since March.

    Day-​to-​day busi­ness has been any­thing but nor­mal. We’ve felt the pain of our cus­tomers. Starts and stops, lim­ited capac­ity man­dates, front-​line worker safety, finan­cial invest­ments to com­bat COVID, inside, out­side, curb­side– the list goes on. It’s been a stag­ger­ing climb to meet the challenges.

    On the sup­ply side, farm­ers and ranch­ers are also caught up in the schiz­o­phrenic nature and fall­out from the pan­demic. Sound plan­ning for ample crops, is based on true demand. That demand con­tin­ues to shift along with many other uncertainties.

    Weather con­di­tions, wild­fires, smoke, power out­ages and COVID-​related labor short­ages were uncon­trol­lable for farm­ers to deal with. The lat­est round of food­ser­vice restric­tions leaves every­one head scratching.
    Grow­ing con­cern over via­bil­ity through the com­ing weeks is a real fac­tor for any­one in the hos­pi­tal­ity or restau­rant busi­ness. They are in sur­vival mode.

    All the while, all food sec­tor chan­nels con­tinue to feed hun­gry peo­ple. If you have food on the table and a full pantry, count that as a bless­ing. Now more than ever, food inse­cu­rity is at a fevered pitch. Finan­cial hard­ship is a by-​product for fam­i­lies impacted from COVID work shutdowns.

    Our local Sacra­mento Food Bank & Fam­ily Ser­vices orga­ni­za­tion part­ners with over 220 local agen­cies. Together they dis­trib­ute food to indi­vid­u­als and fam­i­lies in under-​served com­mu­ni­ties. That need has now grown to all rural and sub­ur­ban areas.
  • The Source: Feb­ru­ary 12, 2020

    For the next few weeks, we will be post­ing the PRO*ACT Mar­ket Report in place of our usual Gen­eral Pro­duce version.

    To read the full issue of The Source, includ­ing this week’s com­modi­ties update, click here.

  • The Source: Feb­ru­ary 19, 2020

    For the next few weeks, we will be post­ing the PRO*ACT Mar­ket Report in place of our usual Gen­eral Pro­duce version.

    To read the full issue of The Source, includ­ing this week’s com­modi­ties update, click here.

  • The Source: Feb­ru­ary 26,2020

    For the next few weeks, we will be post­ing the PRO*ACT Mar­ket Report in place of our usual Gen­eral Pro­duce version.

    To read the full issue of The Source, includ­ing this week’s com­modi­ties update, click here.

  • The Source: Feb­ru­ary 5, 2020

    For the next few weeks, we will be post­ing the PRO*ACT Mar­ket Report in place of our usual Gen­eral Pro­duce version.

    To read the full issue of The Source, includ­ing this week’s com­modi­ties update, click here.

  • The Source: Jan­u­ary 15, 2020

    For the next few weeks, we will be post­ing the PRO*ACT Mar­ket Report in place of our usual Gen­eral Pro­duce version.

    To read the full issue of The Source, includ­ing this week’s com­modi­ties update, click here.

  • The Source: Jan­u­ary 22, 2020

    For the next few weeks, we will be post­ing the PRO*ACT Mar­ket Report in place of our usual Gen­eral Pro­duce version.

    To read the full issue of The Source, includ­ing this week’s com­modi­ties update, click here.

  • The Source: Jan­u­ary 8, 2020

    For the next few weeks, we will be post­ing the PRO*ACT Mar­ket Report in place of our usual Gen­eral Pro­duce version.

    To read the full issue of The Source, includ­ing this week’s com­modi­ties update, click here.

  • The Source: March 4, 2020

    For the next few weeks, we will be post­ing the PRO*ACT Mar­ket Report in place of our usual Gen­eral Pro­duce version.

    To read the full issue of The Source, includ­ing this week’s com­modi­ties update, click here.

  • Tran­si­tions

    A 300 mile radius, or less, to define locally grown may not mat­ter much to those that are able to pick straight from a hoop house out back every­day.

    That real­ity doesn’t exists for most fresh pro­duce cus­tomers.

    For three sea­sons out of the year, regional grow­ers make it easy for us to scratch our local itch. That fourth sea­son is tougher to rely on for close to home grown.

    Liv­ing in the mid-​west, or other cold belt states, poses real chal­lenges for sourc­ing fresh pro­duce from inside the USA dur­ing win­ter.

    Cal­i­for­nia, Ari­zona and Florida man­age to eek out a fair amount of crop pro­duc­tion through the dead of win­ter. The desert regions (Yuma and Huron) do the heavy lift­ing for Ari­zona and Cal­i­for­nia let­tuce and wet veg­etable production.
  • Worker Scarcity

    The pan­demic, for all its unique dif­fi­cul­ties, has served to high­light and inten­sify some ongo­ing indus­try chal­lenges.

    No mat­ter what lane of the food indus­try a com­pany is in– grower, packer, proces­sor, retail, food­ser­vice, distributor-​there is an acute need for good work­ers to fill the voids.

    This long-​term prob­lem has been exac­er­bated as the slow return to “busi­ness as usual” unfolds.

    Worker scarcity, worker safety, tough con­di­tions and high turnover have all been height­ened by the COVID cri­sis.

    Long term, com­pa­nies will have to sort out how to man­age the on-​going issues of lack of labor.

    The entire U.S. econ­omy needs work­ers. Employ­ers hired nearly a mil­lion peo­ple in March. Job list­ings are surg­ing, with open­ings on career sites well ahead of top­ping their pre-​coronavirus lev­els. Gov­ern­ment stim­u­lus money has allowed some peo­ple to stay home longer than they oth­er­wise would have.

    The hottest jobs sec­tors are those areas that “make or move” things. Con­struc­tion, ware­hous­ing, fac­to­ries and phar­macy are areas that can­not fill the demand. The num­ber of ware­house jobs listed on Indeed as of early April was 57% above what they were before the virus struck.

    Retail gro­cery deliv­ery through the pan­demic has increased sig­nif­i­cantly. FMI reports that e-​commerce for gro­ceries grew by 300 per­cent dur­ing the pan­demic. The same peo­ple who may have held or taken jobs at retail or ware­houses before, now have mul­ti­ple types of newly cre­ated job oppor­tu­ni­ties. A con­tribut­ing key fac­tor is bet­ter or more flex­i­ble work­ing conditions.