Courtesy Pro*Act LLCPrices for asparagus, limes and avocados should be high, but foodservice companies expect a strong showing for fruits and vegetables at the nation’s restaurants on Mother’s Day May 10.
Foodservice demand for fresh produce on Mother’s Day 2014 could be even bigger than usual, said Wes Holcomb, director of produce and dairy for Fort Worth, Texas-based Ben E. Keith Foods.
That’s saying something, considering that Holcomb thinks Mother’s Day is to foodservice what Christmas is to retail.
“We’re really starting to see a lot of action already,” Holcomb said April 10. “And not just for the day but for a couple of weeks leading up to it. I think it will be really good.”
Strawberries and other berries — “anything that goes on a dessert” — will see big spikes for Mother’s Day, Holcomb said.
Typical holiday favorites like asparagus and strawberries will be continue to be the big draws, said Anthony Molinaro, vice president of client services for Monterey, Calif.-based Pro*Act LLC.
“It’s one of the biggest pulls throughout the year,” he said. “Everyone wants to take care of Mom on Mother’s Day.”
About 80 million American adults ate in restaurants on Mother’s Day in 2013, according to the National Restaurant Association, and the numbers will likely be similar this year, said Christin Fernandez, the Washington, D.C.-based association’s manager of media relations and public affairs.
“Mother’s Day continues to be the most popular dining out holiday for restaurants,” Fernandez said. “Whether it’s brunch, lunch or dinner, restaurants are at the center of Mother’s Day celebrations.”
While asparagus markets were very strong in early April, Molinaro expected them to stabilize in the run-up to Mother’s Day, and for supplies to be “pretty good.”
Holcomb said Ben E. Keith was more concerned about limes and avocados, though he stressed the company would have ample supplies to meet holiday demand.
Customers just may not like the price.
“Limes are the talk of the industry,” he said. “Hopefully they’ll settle down some. And avocados will be higher-priced than in the past. Down here that’s a huge item for us.”
Molinaro expects brisk movement of melons and other produce items consumers associate with warmer weather.
“Everyone wants to promote spring items — not only for buffets but incorporated into menus.”
Pro*Act also expects a big Mother’s Day push for baby squash, haricots verts and other specialty items, Molinaro said.
For Ben E. Keith, newer items expected to sell well for Mother’s Day include ready-to-serve shredded kale and a lettuce blend that’s similar to spring mix but with bigger leaves, Holcomb said.
About one-quarter of American adults typically celebrate Mother’s Day by dining out, and another 10% rely on restaurant takeout or delivery for a Mother’s Day meal, according to NRA data.
Those statistics, Fernandez said, have been ones foodservice purveyors of fruits and vegetables and other items can bank on year in and year out.
“The numbers don’t fluctuate by much year over year,” she said.