For one specialty vegetable grower, the upcoming Fresh Summit 2019 show offers a chance to look beyond foodservice.
“We’re primarily a foodservice business and a lot of the shows we go to are foodservice driven. But we’ve been going to Fresh Summit for a long time because it’s a great opportunity to meet retail customers as well,” says Matt Hiltner of Babé Farms, Inc. in Santa Maria, Ca.
At this year’s show, Babé plans to display many colorful and specialty items including Romanesco, root vegetables, baby lettuces, frisée, kohlrabi, as well as its baby beets which it carries in red, gold and striped colors.
“We’re entering a favorable point in the growing season for baby beets. We have plentiful supplies right now and we’re going into Fresh Summit strong on our supplies there,” says Hiltner, who notes Babé offers the item year-round since supplies come from California’s Santa Maria Valley. “We recently hit an uptick in supplies.” Hiltner notes that volume is up compared to this time last year due to warm weather and optimal growing conditions which have pushed plantings ahead of schedule.
Increasing interest in beets
Demand for the beets is strong, with one of Babé’s more popular beet items being the mixed box of beets where all three colors are included.
“They’re a versatile vegetable that can be roasted, pickled, boiled, put into salads and more. And they fit well with retail and foodservice and are an item that’s trending right now,” says Hiltner. “Social media is a big tool for chefs and influencers and they like to highlight produce that photographs well. A lot of times that’s going to be baby-sized vegetables because you can fit more into a picture and onto a plate. Not to mention, the wide array of colors they provide!”
Meanwhile, pricing has been steady on baby beets, though Hiltner notes that with ample supplies, that could always change.
Along with its full line of colorful and specialty vegetables, Babé’s booth #3736 at the show, which takes place October 17-19, will likely have more people in it this year as well. “We’re in Anaheim this year and that’s as close to home as the PMA gets for us so we’ll have more members of our sales team there than usual,” adds Hiltner.