SALINAS, Calif. — Church Bros. LLC is planning to mark the trade show debut of three salad mixes and blends at the Produce Marketing Association Foodservice Conference and Expo in Monterey.
Treviso Blend and Cascade Mix ship under the True Leaf Farms label in four 2-pound bags per carton. Power Mix ships in three 1-pound bags per carton under the Tuscan label.
After some initial packs in mid-April volume had picked up by June, said Ernst Van Eeghen, Church Bros. director of marketing and product development.
“It’s gaining traction,” he said. “There’s a uniqueness about the items. The flavor is what we’ve really focused on, and that’s why we’re seeing success.”
Treviso is a European radicchio variety with a softer bitter tone than standard radicchio. In the product, its chopped leaves are blended with chopped romaine to provide a contrasting sweetness.
Cascade Mix blends green leaf and small whole romaine heart leaves with small amounts of radicchio — for color — and arugula. Power Mix brings together baby kales, chards, spinach and red lolla rosa lettuce.
Church Bros.’ marketing effort is aimed squarely at restaurants and foodservice operators seeking alternatives to standard salad fare on their menus.
“A lot of our customers don’t want just a Caesar and a spring mix, a garden salad and a Cobb salad,” Van Eeghen said. “They want something different. Produce can be a successful item for the foodservice business if you do it right. Over the past couple years we’ve really focused on the flavor components of the produce items that we offer, because that’s where the repeat sales come from.”
Church Bros. is summing up its pitch in a catch phrase: “No cookie-cutter salads.”
“We’ve worked with many chain restaurants on this from white tablecloth to fast casual and even fast food, to help them develop the specific salads they’re looking to present to their demographics,” Van Eeghen said. “There is a lot of flavor in produce. Often flavor is created through dressings and so on. You really don’t need to. We’re helping restaurants revise their salad offering and step away from the cookie cutter concept.
“We want to be more than just a supplier. Flavor has to do with varieties, growing locations, harvesting practices and processing.”
The recently launched products aim to provide color combinations with red and, in the case of Power Mix, to capitalize on the popularity of kale and other dense greens.