Give figs a chance — that’s the message growers and marketers want retailers to understand about fresh figs.
“When stores commit to a consistent presence of fresh figs on the shelf, they’ll see more demand,” said Kevin Herman, owner and president of Madera, Calif.-based The Specialty Crop Co.
Herman said an increased interest from chain stores has helped the overall demand because they typically try to source figs for an extended period of time, compared to some smaller marketers that might have figs one week and not the next.
With the season getting longer, fresh figs can be available for nine or 10 months of the year, if not more.
“This year, we had figs as early as April, and will likely have them until February,” Herman said.
“My advice would be to try fresh figs, but not just for a week or two. Give them a chance for an extended period of time and I think you’ll see a lot of repeat customers,” Herman said.
Linda Cain, vice president of marketing and sales for Valley Fig Growers, Fresno, Calif., said dried and fresh can work together on shelves.
“Dried figs lend themselves to be a natural display item right next to fresh figs on the produce shelf,” Cain said.
More clamshells are being used for figs, said George Kragie, president of Madera, Calif.-based Western Fresh Marketing.
“We have an 8-ounce clamshell that’s a very nice package of fruit,” he said.
In addition, it can increase ring-through because customers will buy an entire pack instead of one or two individual figs.
Stellar Distributing Inc., Madera, Calif., is also working more with clamshells, said Kurt Cappelluti, sales manager.
The California Fig Advisory Board has developed a flavor profile for each fig variety based on sensory evaluation that relates to picking up flavor notes in wine.
Examples include the richness of an earthy cabernet, found in a black mission fig, to the delicate flavors of a riesling found in a sierra, said Karla Stockli, chief executive officer.
“We encourage consumers and food professionals to try them all to find their favorite,” Stockli said.