ST. LOUIS — Avocados, berries and Tuscan lettuce rank among the hot sellers this summer.
Sun Farm Foodservice has seen strong demand in several different fruit and vegetable categories, said president John Pollaci.
“Avocados are really big, and we do a lot of microgreen business, a lot of basil, fresh herbs,” Pollaci said.
Avocados have been big everywhere, Pollaci said — at Hispanic restaurants, in salads at other restaurants, even in breakfast dishes.
Microgreens have been a way for some St. Louis area restaurants supplied by Sun Farm to separates themselves from the pack, Pollaci said.
“A lot of restaurants and caterers are trying to add differentiation and pizzazz to their dishes,” he said.
A switch in strawberry sourcing also has paid dividends this year for Sun Farm.
“We’re working with Foxy instead of Driscoll,” he said. “It’s been very successful.”
Sun Farm also is seeing more and more St. Louis area customers using Tuscan lettuce or some similar version of it, and making their own spring mixes in-house instead of buying it, Pollaci said.
Fresh-cut also is on the rise, he said. Sun Farm doesn’t do its own value-added in-house, but the company does partner with one of its market neighbors, United Fruit & Produce Co. Inc.
More foodservice clients are no longer paying employees to cut, peel and otherwise process produce in-house.
“They do a very nice job,” Pollaci said. “People are realizing it’s hard to keep people on who can do that.”
Sun Farm has been sourcing value-added peppers, tomatoes, potatoes, onions and other commodities from Sun Farm for the past year or two.
Melons, berries, California leafy greens and a variety of locally sourced fruits and vegetables were among the hot sellers for Vaccaro & Sons Produce in midsummer, said owner Dale Vaccaro.
Customers always want to catch the latest wave, but for some companies, like broker H.R. Bushman & Son, sticking with the tried and true is a business model they’re loathe to abandon, said Sal Pupillo, co-owner.
“They’re always asking for something different, but we’re pretty stable — potatoes, onions, tomatoes. We’re pretty much in line with what Mom and Pop ate 30 years ago.”