KANSAS CITY - Specialty produce shippers are gearing up for the fall and winter seasons with a combination of new products and old favorites.

Some of the newest items for Los Angeles-based specialties shipper World Variety Produce, which markets product under the Melissa’s label, are Dutch Yellow Poatoes & Corn, Hatch Kettle Corn and Sapurana Mangoes, said Robert Schueller, the company’s director of media relations.

Dutch Yellow Potatoes & Corn, which ships in three 1.25-pound packages, is perfect for home cooks looking to take a smaller-scale approach to traditional seafood boils, Schuller said.

“Simply pair with onion, lemon, bay leaf, heads of garlic and your favorite shellfish to create a classic seafood shindig,” he said. “The seasoning packet included makes it easy to bring all the ingredients together for an effortless approach to boils.”

Hatch Kettle Corn, which ships in three 5-ounce packages, is made with Melissa’s Hatch Pepper Powder, salt, oregano, cumin, garlic and sugar.

“We already know that authentic New Mexico Hatch Peppers make everything better — burgers, pizzas, tacos, omelets, guacamole, salsa,” Schueller said. “Combine two of our favorite things, Hatch and snacks, and you get Hatch Kettle Corn.”

With its Sapurano Mango, Melissa’s believes it has found the “perfect” mango, Schueller said. The variety, available year-round, combines creamy, velvety flesh with a honey-sweet flavor that features hints of lemon. Product ships in 3.5 pound boxes. 

In addition to its new items, Melissa’s plans to market several other seasonal items this fall and winter, including:

  • Winter Squash (delicata, carnival, gold nugget and sweet dumpling)
  • Kiwiberries (September and October)
  • Green Dragon Apples (October and November)
  • Butterscotch Pears (November through February)
  • Dutch Yellow Potatoes (starts in September)
  • New Crop Onions:  Pearls, Boilers, Sweets, Cipolline and Shallots (Starts in September)
  • Variety Citrus Season (October through March): Kumquats, Kishu mandarins, Ugli/Uniq fruit,  Buddha’s Hand, Ojai Pixie Tangerines and others
  • Chestnuts (October through December)
  • Muscato Grapes (through October)

In addition, Melissa’s is promoting Dragon Fruit, Passion Fruit, Cherimoya, Jackfruit, Kiwano Melon, Rambutan, Blood Oranges, Buddha’s Hand, Starfruit and Papaya as part of its “Freaky Fruit Season,” which runs through October.

Thanksgiving takes over in November, with promotable items including Dutch Yellow Potatoes, Ruby Gold Potatoes, Fingerling Potatoes, Shallots, Sweet Potatoes and Yams, Rhubarb, Mini Cucumbers and more.

With winter comes a new slate of promotable seasonal products from Melissa’s, including:

  • Hannukkah:  Steamed Lentils, Steamed Beets, Horseradish, Celery Root, Radicchio, variety potatoes, variety onions, and more
  • Christmas:  Brussel Sprouts, watermelon radish, white asparagus, romanesco, tamale kit and  more
  • New Year’s:  Blackeyed Peas, crepes, pine nuts, hollandaise sauce, clean snax and more
  • Chinese New Year:  Ginger, turmeric, baby bok Choy, egg roll, won ton, sno peas and more
  • Valentine’s Day:  Passion fruit, Dragon Fruit, Crepes, jackfruit, edamame, clean snax and more

Among the fall and winter Melissa’s is best known for, Schueller said, are Dutch Yellow Potatoes, Ruby Gold Potatoes, Shallots, Ginger, Turmeric, Dragon Fruit, Steamed Lentils, Steamed Beets and and Clean Snax.

A colorful take on sweet potatoes

Alex Berkley, sales director for Los Alamitos, Calif.-based Frieda’s Specialty Produce, is looking forward to promoting Frieda’s Stokes Purple Sweet Potatoes this holiday season.

“They’ve become a darling in the produce department for consumers,” she said. “This year, as our season was starting in September, we saw a major increase in engagement from regional and national retailers in carrying Stokes year-round, as well as already planning their holiday promotions.”

Those promotions include instore recipe content, large displays and print ads. Frieda’s display shippers, Berkley added, allow for secondary displays to be easy to execute during the busiest time of the year for retail.

Frieda’s is also excited about the wide variety of dragon fruit it expects to have heading into the winter dragon fruit import deals.

“We anticipate continued growth in the category, and will have more to come on innovations to our dragon fruit program,” she said.

With COVID, more people are cooking at home, and that means consumers are looking for new ways to spice up their recipes, Berkley said. That’s a perfect opportunity for specialty produce shippers like Frieda’s.

“Consumers are continuing to use their weekly grocery trip as a ‘treasure hunt’ to find something new in order to create new food experiences at home while not being able to travel or dine out as much as they’re used to,” she said. “We will see this trend continue through the holidays.”

Top specialties: eight to keep an eye on

  • Organic Ginger
  • Turmeric
  • Jackfruit
  • Dragon Fruit
  • Sweet Young Coconut
  • Dutch yellow Potatoes
  • Mini Cucumbers
  • Muscato Grapes

Source: World Variety Produce

This story was featured in the October edition of Supermarket Perimeter. Click here to view the whole issue.