Foodservice use of berries continues to grow, according to suppliers.
“Foodservice is growing steadily,” said Eric Crawford, president of Fresh Results LLC, Sunrise, Fla.
“We’ve seen an increase in foodservice sales this past spring and as we enter the summer now,” said Charlie Staka, director of sales for CBS Farms, Watsonville, Calif.
Low cost, convenience
Staka thinks strawberries do well at foodservice because they are a relatively low-cost item, and they are convenient to use.
“You don’t have to put a lot of time into a strawberry to use it as a side dish or garnish, which helps,” he said.
“It’s unlike a melon that you have to cut up or grapes you have to take off the stem, so you can add something special to a plate with minimum work,” Staka said.
Kyla Garnett, marketing manager at Naturipe Farms LLC, Estero, Fla., has also noticed the increase.
“We’re seeing more fruits and vegetables as a whole, but especially berries, on restaurant menus,” Garnett said.
“We are seeing restaurants catering to children and working to make items healthier by providing fruit as ingredients or on their own,” she said.
Boost for retail
The increased foodservice use of berries is also beneficial for retail sales.
“We’re pleased to see the growing trend to put berries on salads in a lot of quick-service or fast casual dining restaurants, as well as berry smoothies or berry toppers for oatmeal, because as people see berries on menus, it’s a great way to increase retail demand,” Garnett said.
Fritz Koontz, owner of Santa Cruz Berry Farming Co., Watsonville, Calif., says he gets excited whenever he sees strawberries on a menu.
“I think it’s great whenever you get strawberries in the foodservice atmosphere and there’s so much availability now, there’s not much reason to not add them to the menu,” he said.
Crawford says there is opportunity for future growthl.
“There’s a transition period right now ... where foodservice is moving from using frozen to fresh,” he said.
While some sectors of the foodservice arena have an easier transition than others, Crawford believes the entire sector is moving that way.
“Everyone is looking to transition at least a portion of their business,” he said.
This transition is at a relatively early stage.
“There’s a huge amount of untapped business potential,” Crawford said.