Dragonfruit can be a popular item around Chinese New Year. ( Photo courtesy Thomas Fresh )

Specialty produce items popular for Chinese New Year promotions should be in good supply for the weeks surrounding the Feb. 16 holiday.

Among the items in demand will be ginger, bok choy, gai lan and other Asian vegetables, as well as citrus items like pummelo, kumquats and Buddha’s hand, according to shippers.

Robert Schueller, director of public relations for Los Angeles-based World Variety Produce, which markets under the Melissa’s brand, said the season has been good so far.

The company is sourcing leafy greens from California, other vegetables from Mexico and fruit from tropical areas.

Alex Jackson Berkley, assistant sales manager for Los Alamitos, Calif.-based Frieda’s, noted that retailers would be wise to plan ahead for one item in particular.

“Buddha’s hand becomes a little tighter this time of the year, so pre-books are vital,” Jackson Berkley said. “Ginger, Shanghai bok choy and kumquats are in plentiful supplies.”

Shippers also recommend stores carry items like dragonfruit and young coconut.

“Dragonfruit has gained lots of momentum in North America in recent years and is still on the rise,” said Andrea Dubak, marketing specialist for Calgary, Alberta-based Thomas Fresh. “This fruit has a one-of-a-kind appearance and offers sweet flavor with a unique texture.

“We believe the awareness towards dragonfruit will continue to trend upwards with the abundance of readily available recipes and information along with social media influences,” Dubak said.

Snow peas and snap peas are other featured holiday items for Thomas Fresh.

Jackson Berkley suggested retailers highlight Chinese New Year with promotions throughout stores.

“The festival goes on for two weeks. Many consumers start shopping a week before,” Jackson Berkley said. “Creating a destination for the holiday is the best way to draw attention to the items while inspiring your shoppers with the produce items you carry. Let the whole store join in with the promotion.”

Schueller said several thousand retailers will be using sign kits from Melissa’s around Feb. 10-24 to celebrate the Year of the Dog.

Recipe pads are also available from the company.

Many stores use the holiday period to expand specialty produce offerings to see which items might catch on with shoppers, Schueller said. Dubak recommends that approach as well.

“We have our programs set up, but we order extra for last-minute buys from retailers,” Dubak said. “Chinese New Year can lead to an influx of demand that some store owners who carry these items may not expect. We also like to encourage retailers who do not carry these features to take advantage of this market.

“Providing a variety of Chinese New Year items could lead to an increase in store sales and puts a pop of color within your produce section during the winter months,” Dubak said.

Turmeric, Chinese long beans, daikon, starfruit, jackfruit, yu choy and lokam oranges are other items that could be highlighted in connection with the holiday.