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Maurice A. Auerbach reports vacuum-packed garlic being well received by retailers and consumers alike

Bruce Klein, director of marketing for Maurice A. Auerbach Inc., located in South Hackensack, NJ, told The Produce News that its “Auerpak” brand vacuum-packed garlic is getting good response from retailers.

“The six individual sections are individually vacuum-packed,” said Mr. Klein. “The item provides convenience to consumers by having just the right amount of garlic for recipes in a ready-to-use format, and it has a longer shelf life under proper refrigeration.

The vacuum-packed garlic item was introduced at the New York Produce Show in November 2010, and the company began shipping in February. It also offers the pack in an organic garlic option.

“Garlic is as nearly as staple an item in people’s pantries today as is salt,” said Mr. Klein. “Even in the summer months when people use their stoves and ovens less, and their barbeque grills more, garlic is there, spicing up marinades, rubs and side dishes. People tend to use more garlic in the fall and winter as they switch back to heartier meals, but it’s pretty much a solid, year-round item. We also have a large foodservice clientele, so the demand for our garlic is always strong.”

Maurice A. Auerbach is the largest distributor of garlic and specialty produce in the Northeast. Besides garlic, it also offers shallots, ginger, specialty vegetables and “Mori Nu” tofu. The organic tofu is aseptically packaged and does not need refrigeration until it is opened. Mr. Klein said that the item continues to draw its own audience and is a good staple item.

“Most retailers display the item with other tofu, but it’s a perfect product to be featured in other areas of the store to demonstrate the many ways it can be used,” said Mr. Klein.

The company is currently concentrating on baby bok choy.

“It’s an up-and-coming item with mainstream consumers, not only with ethnic groups,” Mr. Klein explained. “Some chefs are using it on their menus, and that always inspires people to try it at home. We sell baby bok choy in a 10-pound bulk box.”

Maurice A. Auerbach stays tuned in to the locally grown trend, but Mr. Klein said that garlic is exempt from the movement.

“The sheer nature of garlic makes it an exception to the locally grown demand because it is seasonal in every area where it is produced, and most of those areas are scattered around the globe,” he said. “It would be impossible to fill the continual demand for garlic with only local product. The most-local garlic you’d get here in the Northeast is from Canada, which is also true of shallots. We do source local product, such as asparagus, when it’s available. But it’s a very short local season on such products.”

The company is currently running ginger from Brazil. The Brazilian program runs for several months, and then it switches to sources from Hawaii and other parts of the world. It offers ginger in 10- and 30-pound packs, as well as in a six-ounce package.

Because Maurice A. Auerbach handpicks and hand packs its products, they are known to look really good on grocers’ shelves. Mr. Klein said that consumers like pretty produce, and the company’s items provide an outstanding presentation.

“A lot of our chain customers are looking for convenience items today,” he added. “Packaged items are simply more-widely demanded. We listen to our customers, and if they want something packaged we do it for them.”