Fresh fruit boosts sales of gelato at Dierbergs
In addition to promoting locally grown fresh produce in its traditional produce section, one

Dierbergs grocery store in St. Louis is keeping customers cool with fresh-fruit gelato.

The Dierbergs Market Center at 1760 Clarkson Road is home to a Benito’s Gelato, which serves up creamy Italian treats made with fresh fruits and nuts. Benito’s co-owner Judy Bellos uses an old family recipe and imported gelato machines from Italy to make the frozen treat.

Blood orange and raspberry are among the top-selling flavors of gelato, which is made with milk instead of cream so it has less fat than traditional American ice cream.

Ole Tyme Produce adds Santa Sweets
Ole Tyme Produce Inc. announced the addition of Santa Sweets Inc. tomatoes to its product lineup in its July 25 newsletter. The Daleo family has been operating Ole Tyme for more than 30 years, closing retail operations to focus on wholesale in 1985 and moving to the St. Louis Terminal Market in 1986.

Based in Plant City, Fla., Santa Sweets specializes in the santa F1 grape tomato variety, which are vine-ripened and handpicked. The company also ships its trademarked UglyRipe heirloom tomatoes, which are known for irregular shapes and distinctive individual protective foam sleeves.

Other Santa Sweets tomatoes include an organic line certified through Quality Assurance International and Sweet Ripes. The Sweet Ripes are packaged specifically for snacking in a plastic container that has vents for easy rinsing and a reclosable lid.

System helps Schnucks with inventory, orders
Operating a retail grocery business involves hundreds if not thousands of contracts. With 250 or more products in the produce aisle alone, management of contracts can easily become the giant paperwork gorilla in the middle of the room.

To ease operations, Schnucks Markets in St. Louis has opted for the contract management system from Intersource Inc., Phoenix. Intersource just rolled out the system at the end of 2010, and according to a news release from the company it can help retailers better manage their costs.

The system generates e-mail messages to the appropriate staff 90-120 days before a contract is coming up for renewal. For example, Schnucks staff recently got a reminder that the company’s cell phone contract was coming up for an automatic renewal. Staff was able to research the situation to decide whether to renew or switch companies.

A contract we signed three years ago may have been great then, but we may not need it now,” Schnucks director of procurement services John Scherer said in the release. “If we allow auto-renewals without review, we may get stuck paying for something we don’t need.”

Soulard Market helps with primate rescues
Since 1979 the Missouri Primate Foundation has been helping abandoned and unwanted primates and other animals.

In recent years, vendors at the historic Soulard Market in downtown St. Louis have assisted with the foundations efforts by giving leftover produce to the animal preserve.

The 81 animals at the sanctuary include one chimpanzee that is more than 50 years old, about 40 other primates, a zebra, emu, llama, miniature donkeys, miniature goats, exotic birds, ducks and other creatures that needed a home. Owner-operator connie Casey said the wide variety of produce from the Soulard Market is a tremendous help, even though the bulk of it is donated during summer.

“They’ve been bringing us stuff for about three years now, and it really helps,” Casey said, adding that she has more money to buy fresh produce for the animals during winter months because of the donations during summer.

Scott Schweiger, owner of the fourth-generation produce business Schweiger’s Pride at Soulard Market, is the president of the market’s association and said that sending leftover produce to the sanctuary just seemed like the right thing to do, so the vendors made it happen.
Seasonal vendor fee cap raises concerns

Growers and other vendors at farmers markets in St. Louis County want a limit on county Health Department fees, contending the fees are excessive and inconvenient.

However, supermarket chains in the metro area say capping the fees would give the growers who sell at the farmers markets an unfair competitive edge. The metro area has about 40 farmers markets where vendors and growers are subject to the fees.

Currently the county charges a $75 “seasonal food establishment permit” at each market where a grower sells. Growers who want to offer samples must also pay a $35 for “temporary food establishment permits,” which are good for two weeks.

Two St. Louis area supermarket chains, Schnucks and Dierbergs, have filed comments opposing capping fees with the county Health Department. A Schnucks spokesman said capping the fees would create an uneven playing field. The retailers must follow laws and local codes and don’t believe the growers who sell directly to the public at farmers markets should be exempt from fees or health codes.