Los Angeles based Gourmet Trading Co., a worldwide importer and distributor of fresh fruits and vegetables, is introducing a new product this year from its Peruvian asparagus deal: a tri-color pack that combines green, purple and white asparagus.
Beginning in September, the pack will be offered in various configurations including a one-pound, 1.5-pound and two-pound consumer bag. These special packs will be offered at least through mid-December. “This bag extends the shelf life as well as creating a stunning presentation in the produce department,” said Julia Inestroza, marketing manager for the firm.
The company has been a leader in marketing mixed packs of asparagus, as it also offers a six-pound split case of white and purple asparagus that Ms. Inestroza said is “perfect for foodservice. It allows white table cloth restaurants the ability to buy one case of asparagus yet create interesting dishes using two colors of asparagus.”
She said that the foodservice business has been especially good so far this year. “We are seeing that foodservice demand is growing, which is a great sign the economy is recovering,” she said. “Retail sales have also been strong.”
Gourmet Trading Co. was founded in 1982 under the principle that cultivating relationships is as important as cultivating produce. The firm partners with growers in South America, Central America, Australia, New Zealand and the United States to provide its customers with the best produce available at any given time. “Our strong grower relationships, management of our own farms and continual investment in our business enable us to provide high-quality fruits and vegetables all year round,” proclaims the company’s web site.
The company’s relationship with Peruvian growers spans the life of the firm and gives Gourmet a year-round supply of green asparagus. It has its own farms in Peru in addition to a state-of-the-art asparagus packing facility in Washington state, ensuring its year-round supply.
As the Peruvian asparagus deal unfolds this season, Ms. Inestroza said that Gourmet is anticipating stronger-than-normal demand. The company is looking forward to working with its many retail and foodservice customers to promote the crop. “The U.S. retail trade does a good job promoting Peruvian asparagus through price-driven measures,” she said, adding that there is also room for promotions based on meal planning and health factors. “It would be great to see a retailer promoting Peruvian asparagus as the ‘easy and elegant side dish.’“
Gourmet is headquartered in a 45,000-square-foot cooling facility and warehouse adjacent to Los Angeles International Airport. The company believes the location gives it an advantage of being U.S. Department of Agriculture compliant, as it has greater control over cool-chain management to protect the integrity of the product that it handles. At the facility, the company has what it calls the first ozone-based hydrocooler in use in the United States. It claims this hydrocooler helps in the rehydration of its products and provides the benefits of ozone for food safety.
The firm also has a new warehouse in Miami that has 33,400 square feet of temperature-controlled cooler space.