Herbs and garlic are finding ready and eager customers in the foodservice category, but chefs demand special requirements of the product to facilitate their use, suppliers say.
“The potential is endless, and chefs love it,” said Louis Hymel, purchasing and marketing director with garlic and spice distributor Spice World Inc. in Orlando, Fla.
“The aromas during prep and cooking are incredible,” he said.
Suppliers are well-advised to make the product as easy to use as possible, said Patsy Ross, vice president of marketing, garlic grower-shipper Christopher Ranch in Gilroy, Calif.
“Whereas fresh garlic with the skins on the bulbs is probably the No. 1 garlic item at the grocery store, peeled garlic cloves are key in the foodservice world,” Ross said.
That’s because fresh peeled garlic cloves are require no extra labor and come ready to use, with no waste, Ross said.
The rest is easy, she said.
“Sensory evaluation has shown that fresh California heirloom garlic has a strong long-lasting flavor throughout the whole dish as well as a higher brix count and a higher level of allicin,” she said, referring to the sulfur compound closely associated with flavor and health properties of garlic.”
Bruce Klein, marketing director with Secaucus, N.J.-based garlic shipper Maurice A. Auerbach Inc., said peeled garlic use is almost universal in the foodservice sector.
“I don’t think very many foodservice purveyors buy bulk garlic anymore, unless they need it for a special account or they’re selling a white-tablecloth restaurant that’s serving garlic that way,” he said.
There’s also growing support for garlic in institutional foodservice, Klein said.
“Schools, hospitals use it all year. It’s a very big item,” he said.
Miami-based Infinite Herbs & Specialties offers organic and conventional herbs, and restaurants generally go the conventional route, said Camilo Penalosa, a partner.
“Restaurants use conventional because of price, but also in restaurants,it’s very difficult to promote organic because you need to have an organic kitchen,” he said. “Everything needs to be organic. You can’t have both.”
Microherbs are popular among foodservice customers, said Robert Schueller, director of public relations for Los Angeles-based World Variety Produce Inc., which markets the Melissa’s brand.