Melynk said foodservice should buy local produce in season to trim costs, experiment with new ingredients and take advantage of pre-washed, pre-cut ingredients.
Fresh fruit trends
While vegetables are popular at lunch and dinner, Canadians consume fruit all day, said Claude Doiron, national sales manager at Vancouver-based Sun Rich Fresh Foods Inc., which processes more than 100 million pounds of fruit a year.
Doiron said Canadians eat 89% of their fruit at home, most at breakfast, and only 3% in restaurants, where there’s a huge opportunity to increase sales, he said.
More quick-service restaurants offer sliced apples in salads and as an alternative to cookies, he said, and chefs are slipping diced mango into seafood and chicken dishes.
Children aged 2 to 12 are driving fruit trends, Doiron said, though today’s teens are eating less fruit. Apples, strawberries and bananas remain favorites, he said, and the more pre-cut fruit kids have access to, the more they’ll eat.
In response to customer demand, Doiron said Sun Rich is processing as much local product as possible in season.
“It’s important for customers to know where their fruit is coming from,” he said.
He said studies show that consumers believe local produce tastes fresher and better, they trust that it’s safe and they like supporting their community.