Fresh-cut produce options are expanding in the Twin Cities area, suppliers and wholesalers say.
The foodservice industry, especially, has shown increased interest in fresh-cut produce.
Marylou Owen, chief operating officer of G.O. Fresh Inc., a Minneapolis-based fresh-cut processor, and Scott Grow, quality assurance manager, have seen interest from commercial and non-commercial foodservice customers who have increased their use of fresh-cut produce.
G.O. Fresh has over 700 SKUs of fresh-cut produce options, according to the company website.
The fresh-cut scene is also changing at the retail level, according to wholesalers and distributors.
“We’re seeing more interest in the ‘grab-and-go’ kits where a person doesn’t have time to cook at home. They’re buying sliced tomatoes and cut-up pineapple,” said Arthur Quiggle, vice president of Wholesale Produce Supply, Minneapolis.
Quiggle said that by doing the labor at the wholesale level, these options provide value not only to consumers, but also the retailers and distributors.
“There’s a labor savings, whether in the back of the store or the back of a restaurant, so it helps them out,” he said.
Distributors can also better serve their customers when working with a wholesaler that offers fresh-cut produce.
“We’re also helping the distribution centers by offering them more items to sell and bring to their customers,” Quiggle said.
Brian Hauge, president of Wholesale Produce, said location plays a big part in the growth of this portion of the business.
“We’re five days from any processing facility on the West Coast, so our distribution is perfect for foodservice here to have product the very next day. It’s a lot more local,” Hauge said.
Adam Gamble, president of Russ Davis Wholesale, Wadena, Minn., said he has seen the company’s fresh-cut business double two years in a row.
In fact, the company recently brought the processing in-house, so it can do its own fresh processing. The company also started its own brand of value-added produce options with its Crazy Fresh Produce brand.
Since then, the company has worked to release new products that will add value and interest to the category.
“We’re working on some new things that include popular super foods, like kale,” Gamble said.
The company also offers options that are designed to complement produce selections, such as Greek yogurt parfaits, which have seen a lot of interest.
“We’re seeing a lot of things with berries, and more tropical fruit than you used to see,” Gamble said.
Companies are working with their customers and partners to communicate and promote the new options.
“We have fresh-cut consultants that work with our foodservice distributors and their end users in the Midwest region that we service,” Owen said.