Artisan romaine moves forward

07/21/2011 11:41:00 AM
Dan Gailbraith

SALINAS, Calif. — Following up on the success of its multicolored Artisan lettuce, Tanimura & Antle is pushing ahead with its Artisan romaine.

A volume boost may not be obvious now, but could be by the time desert harvesting begins in the fall and winter.

“Artisan romaine has been in limited trial in foodservice in the last nine months,” said Rick Antle, chief executive officer of Tanimura & Antle. “It’s now in limited trial at retail.”

“We’re in the process of increasing our seed supply,” he said. “We’re harvesting the seed now and can ramp it up in the desert crop.”

Artisan romaine comes in a two-count clamshell. The marketing theme is “chill it, fill it, grill it.”

“That lettuce is quite flavorful on the grill,” Antle said.

By comparison, the Artisan petite lettuces are well established. The company isn’t releasing sales or acreage numbers, but a rise in volume is transparent to any Salinas motorist who bothers to look out the window as they commute past the fields that ring the city.

“Yes, there are more Artisan fields,” Antle said. “We continue to have strong growth in both foodservice and retail. It’s being driven two ways — added customers and market share, and a year-over-year increase in sales with existing customers. It’s a product consumers want. The challenge for us is keeping it on the shelf.”



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