Freshness, shelf life drive living produce category

06/27/2011 10:12:00 AM
Dan Gailbraith

Goldman’s product isn’t the “Living Salad Bowl,” but the living lettuce also boasts a longer shelf life than comparable conventional cut-and-cleaned product,” she said.

“The roots are still intact, and as long as you keep the root moist, it will be fine for two weeks,” she said.

The category has grown for Living Lettuce Farms without much help from conventional retailers, Goldman noted.

“We have from time to time little gourmet specialty markets here and there who would buy the head lettuce, but for the most part, it goes to the farmers market,” she said.

The company sells about 300 heads a week, she said.

Mirabel, Quebec-based Hydroserre Mirabel has been selling living Boston lettuce for years, and sales continue to grow, said Daniel Terrault, vice president of sales and marketing.

“With all the baby boomers, everybody wants to be healthy, and it’s growing tremendously,” he said. “The fact that we’re protected in the clamshell is something also that sells the product.”

Terrault said his company ships about 12 million heads per year.

Thermal, Calif.-based North Shore Greenhouses Inc. also has noted “tremendous growth” in the category, said Serena Leiterman, executive assistant and business development representative with the company, which offers 21 varieties of living culinary herbs.”

“There’s a huge rush now in cooking at home, and our products fit right into that trend,” she said. “Retailers and consumers are very, very happy with it.”

Shelf life also is an edge with living herbs, she added.

“You buy the cut herbs, you do have a very limited shelf life by the time they make it to the consumer,” she said. “Even products that do well in freshness are really at the ends of their shelf life. With our fresh herbs, you have that instant shelf life and you can continue to use it during the week and include fresh ingredients.”

The product is pricier than cut herbs, at least up front, Leiterman said.

“They are a little bit more expensive than cut herbs, but when you’re looking at overall net profits, you save so much in the shrink that typically ours ends up being the better deal for the retailer,” she said.

Marc Clark, executive vice president of Rocket Farms Inc., Salinas, said his company’s organic living herb program is now four years old — and growing.



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