With spring in play and foodservice businesses reopening again across the country, what does this mean for spring vegetable demand?
Popular spring vegetable items include petite baby mixed lettuce, rainbow carrots, specialty radishes and more.
At Babé Farms, Inc. in Santa Maria, CA, it’s in good production on popular spring item varieties including petite baby mixed lettuce, golden blonde frisée, baby rainbow carrots, purple and green kohlrabi, baby artichokes and specialty radishes. The company has also brought back into production purple Brussels sprouts. “These varieties are usually the ones that see the biggest jump in demand this time of year,” says Matt Hiltner of Babé.
The popularity of these items is indicative of many consumer trends seen in the market today--the interest in healthy eating, the curiosity to try new products, particularly eye-catching colorful ones and the greater ease consumers have with home cooking. Babé recently introduced a 1 lb. watermelon radish stand-up pouch, a package that displays the radish’s bright interior color and helps shelf life. “When the pandemic began, the most in-demand products were the long shelf-life, “storage” items such as large-sized beets, celery root, kale, baby bok choy and even kohlrabi,” says Hiltner. “Now consumers are looking to recreate dishes from their favorite restaurants or that they see on social media. They’re more willing to purchase specialty items to give their dishes an authentic look and flavor.”
Babé recently introduced a one-lb. watermelon radish stand-up pouch.
Meal kits as marketing
Hiltner also says partnering with meal kit companies to introduce specialty vegetables such as romanesco and those watermelon radishes to the mainstream has also been an effective marketing strategy.
Colorful carrot varieties are an item that sees a jump in demand at this time of year, says Hiltner.
Meanwhile, with foodservice business coming back, demand is changing again. “Things have begun to normalize from a consumption standpoint,” says Hiltner. In the past month for example, Babé has seen an increase in demand on popular foodservice items such as Blonde frisée, baby head lettuce, celery root, kohlrabi, baby artichokes, Purple Ninja and watermelon radishes, all of which have been moving in greater volumes each week.