Early Chinese New Year bodes well for shippers of fresh produce

12/19/2013 02:03:00 PM
Andy Nelson

Vegetables also a hit

Snow peas, a mainstay of Chinese cooking, are always a big draw at Chinese New Year for Pompano Beach, Fla.-based Southern Specialties, a major year-round supplier of the commodity for both foodservice and retail, said Charlie Eagle, vice president of business development.

But two other vegetables — sugar snap peas and asparagus — have been gaining ground.

“In recent years they’ve become more and more popular with Chinese customers,” Eagle said. “You can find them on many menus now.”

For Chinese restaurants, asparagus goes great in stir fries and offers differentiation because, Eagle said, it’s a vegetable that’s perceived as gourmet or upscale.

There’s potential for retail growth, Eagle said, in marketing vegetables for Chinese New Year and in cross-merchandising them with other Chinese food items from other parts of the store.

“Chinese New Year is kind of undersold,” he said. “There are opportunities that should be taken advantage of a little more frequently.”

Prices

On Dec. 17, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported prices of $10-11 for 7.7-pound containers of solo golden papayas from Brazil 7-12s, down from $13-14 last year at the same time.

Eleven-pound cartons of extra-large bing cherries from Chile were $38-40, down from $40-42 last year.

Ten-pound cartons of Guatemalan snow peas were $13-14, up from $6-7.


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