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Top produce items for the Year of the Dog

US imports for Chinese New Year in good supply

Chinese New Year is fast approaching: February 16th marks the Year of the Dog. Traditional staples and other items increasing in popularity are in good supply currently, shipping from Asia and Mexico. 

Chinese New Year is a major holiday celebrated worldwide. It’s a market that Andrea Dubak says Thomas Fresh focuses heavily on annually. They begin planning their program very far in advance. She says their top six produce items for the holiday will be dragon fruit, snow peas, snap peas, gai lan, yu choy and lokam oranges. 

Dragon fruit is coming from Southern Vietnam, Snows and snaps are sourced from China and both gai lan and yu choy are being imported from Mexico. “Dragon Fruit, Snow and snap peas are in peak season right now,” Dubak says, noting them as marketable options because they’re fresh and supply is very good. “The gai lan, yu choy and lokam oranges are traditional items that a lot of people use during Chinese New Year and they’re (also) in good supply.” Lokam oranges represent symbols of prosperity and it also lets consumers extend the Christmas orange cravings. 

Celebrations stretch far beyond Asia
Both supply and quality are looking “great” for this Chinese New Year. “This is why we have chosen to feature them to store owners,” she says. “We’re very diligent to check quality with each shipment. Many shoppers expect high quality during Chinese New Year because they’re cooking for large groups of friends and family for this special occasion.” Gai lan, yu choy and lokam oranges are yielding a consistent supply according to Dubak. The challenging part is gauging the demand from year to year. “Chinese New Year is celebrated by over a billion people around the world and these celebrations stretch far beyond Asia. Research shows that these numbers were up from the year before.” 

As demand increases, prices tend to increase as well, however it depends on the item itself. “Within Western Canada there are many different markets that we must adapt to as a provider of specialty ethnic fruits and vegetables.” Prices are aimed at a fair level for high quality products. “For consumers, there’s a wider range of (ethnic) products available around the celebration and some retailers may offer competitive pricing to attract this demographic,” she says. 

Strong growth in Asian and ethnic categories
There’s been very strong growth in the Asian and ethnic product category. “This Chinese New Year is our biggest thus far with 40% of our annual Asian and ethnic category shipments being captured with the lead up to this holiday.” Because it’s one of the biggest worldwide holidays, transportation channels become extremely busy during this time period with proper planning a must. “We set up our programs in advance with our growers and shippers. Planning ahead allows us to deliver fresh and consistent supply to our retailers,” says Dubak. 

Dragon fruit is a leading item for strong demand, having gained a lot of momentum in North America in recent years and Dubak says it’s still on the rise. “This fruit has a one of a kind appearance while also offering sweet flavor and a unique texture. We believe the awareness towards Dragon Fruit will continue to trend upwards with the abundance of readily available recipes and information along with social media influences.” 

For more information: 
Andrea Dubak 
Thomas Fresh 
Ph: 403-236 8234 

Publication date: 1/30/2018



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