Tropicals bring exotic flair to supermarket displays - The Packer

Tropicals bring exotic flair to supermarket displays

12/02/2013 03:59:00 PM
Cynthia David

More tropical fruit is arriving in Montreal to fill supermarket displays.

St. Laurent, Quebec-based Jirstrek Fruits Ltd., which specializes in exotics, expects the year’s first air shipment of lychees from the Indian Ocean region along with fresh figs from Brazil and Argentina.

“We did good ads this summer with Turkish figs,” said project manager Danielle Chayer, “and lately we’ve been promoting yellow pitahayas, pink dragon fruits, granadillas, passion fruit and tamarillos with good results.”

Jirstrek, which moved to a new warehouse in September, also imports edible flowers, including orchids, for its upscale clientele.

“Our products are relatively expensive because we import almost everything by air and we check the quality box by box,” she said.

In mid-November, Boucherville, Quebec-based importer Agri-Mondo Inc. flew in its first shipment of custard-like cherimoyas from Spain.

“The quality is fantastic but the fruit is too fragile to come by container,” said Robert Beauregard, who’s leaving Agri-Mondo to open his own consulting company, Gestion FLexCo.

The first shipment was sold to Metro and Sobeys stores in Quebec, said Beauregard, who hopes to introduce the oval fruit with the scaly green skin to other chains by year end.

For the second year, Agri-Mondo is also flying in blueberries from Argentina and Uruguay to fill the gap before the Chilean deal begins in mid-December.

Vanilla persimmons from Spain are also hot in Quebec from early November to late January, Beauregard said.

The smooth, bright orange fruit resembles the astringent hachiya persimmon, yet it’s always sweet and ready to eat.

“We’ve been bringing it in for close to five years and volumes are growing every year,” he said.

Clementines from Spain and Morocco, popular during the holidays, got off to a slow start this year, Beauregard said.

The early Moroccan fruit wasn’t sweet and the appearance was “just OK,” he said, which may have turned off consumers.

“We had a lot of fruit but everyone was disappointed with the demand,” he said.

In exotic citrus, foodservice supplier Can-Am Fruit & Vegetables based in St.-Laurent is importing Buddha’s hand, a cluster of yellow fingers of pure lemon-yellow rind that hails from Colombia and California.

It’s expensive, but you can use 100% of it in a vinaigrette or as a beautiful garnish with meat and fish,” said Can-Am vice president Mike Bono.

Bono also recommends grating the tender skin like Parmesan cheese over polenta, oysters and rapini.



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