Remember the Power of Purple

As We Enter Winter...Remember the Power of Purple

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In the Winter edition of Fresh Insights for Foodservice, a seasonal publication of United Fresh Produce Association, the emphasis is placed on “vibrant purple produce”! The publication, which touts that it “showcases trends at restaurants, retail, home delivery and beyond” gives retailers a snapshot of those items that consumers are seeking. With today’s renewed dedication to all things healthy, nutrition-packed purple “heavyweights” will find their way on both menus and shopping lists as we enter the Winter selling season…and well into the New Year!


One section of The Power of Purple edition talks about the importance of sauces and dips at the foodservice level, and how new ingredients and flavors are often incorporated into sauces or dips as a vehicle to introduce those flavors to consumers. From the article: “By using a trending produce option or global spice in a sauce or dip and serving it on a sandwich or burger, or as a side for chicken fingers or breadsticks, operators can showcase new flavors in familiar ways. Mediterranean sauces and dips are particularly trendy on menus right now – both tahini and hummus have more than doubled their menu penetration in the past decade.” 


MERCHANDISING TIP OF THE WEEK.  Some interesting culinary trends are highlighted in United’s Fresh Insights for Foodservice Winter 2018 edition:


The Power of Purple. From the article: “Purple foods are trending because they fall at the intersection of two larger trends – they offer a functional benefit and they have an eye-catching color seemingly made for social media. In the past five years, the definition of ‘healthy’ has evolved to focus on foods that have a functional benefit – they give consumers energy, keep them full, etc. At the same time, operators are looking for those ‘Instagram-worthy’ ingredients that prompt customers to immediately get out their phones – beautifully arranged smoothie bowls, over-the-top crudité platters, etc. These two trends are driving growth in nearly every type of purple-hued produce option you can imagine – asparagus, potatoes, acai, corn, rice, grapes, plums, berries, lettuces and endive, peppers, olives, beans, onions and beyond.” Two key Winter items were showcased in the article:


Ube / Purple Yam. From the article: “The name ‘ube’ (pronounced ooh-beh) is Filipino and indeed the vegetable is ubiquitous throughout the Philippines where it can be found fresh or in jams, powders, and extracts. Like most yams, ube has a subtly sweet flavor that makes it equally at home on the savory or sweet side of the menu, though it also has a unique floral or pistachio-like flavor all its own. Ube may be the commodity that is most associated with the purple trend. Chefs have been using the vegetable as a natural source of color in bright purple Instagram-worthy dishes, including ice cream and cakes. Chefs are also increasingly inspired by authentic Filipino foods, including dishes like ube halaya (ube custard), ube macapuno (cake), and halo-halo, a shaved ice dessert that often features ube. On the savory side, ube can be used in soups and stews, pastas, side dishes, snacks (ube chips) and beverages.”


Purple Cabbage. From the article: “While it generally has a purple hue, purple cabbage is often called red cabbage, though that may be changing as the demand for purple foods continues to grow. Purple cabbage’s color is affected by the acidity of the soil – acidic soils produce darker shades of purple or red. It is remarkably versatile – on today’s menus it is used across dishes, dayparts, and cuisines. Used raw, it’s most frequently found adding a bright color to appetizer or entrée salads, but it can also be found in slaws and as a colorful topping for bowls, sandwiches, burgers, tacos and pizzas. But purple cabbage is also a hearty variety that can stand up to cooking, whether it’s sautéed, steamed, baked, boiled, or grilled. At fine dining restaurants it may be cooked with rich red wine and served with duck breast, while a classic German preparation features purple cabbage braised with apples, often found on U.S. menus with schnitzel or pork chops in the fall or winter.”


Acai. From the article: “For thousands of years, the acai palm tree has grown along the banks of the Amazon river delta, primarily in Brazil. In this region, the tree’s fruit – the acai (pronounced ah-sigh-ee) berry – is a staple of the Ribeirinhos’ (river people’s) diet and eaten with every meal; the berries are harvested, soaked, and mashed into a pulp or soupy liquid. The small, dark-purple acai berries have a rich berry taste but with deep, earthy tones often compared to dark chocolate. In recent years, the acai berry has exploded onto the international food scene due to its ‘superfood’ status. Because acai berries spoil quickly, originally the acai berry pulp was frozen before it was imported to the U.S. The frozen pulp could be used in healthy options like smoothies, juices, and a whole new category – acai bowls. Now acai can be found across the menu, from pancakes and waffles at breakfast to salad dressings at lunch to cocktails in the evening.”


Plums. As we approach summer, we need to “Think Plums” in our merchandising and marketing strategies. From the article: “Plums have increased their menu penetration in every segment in the past four years. In foodservice, fresh plums are common in desserts and at bakeries, from plum muffins to plum tarts to plum sorbets. In late summer, vibrant purple plums can also brighten up a breakfast smoothie bowl or a fresh salad on the lunch or dinner menu. Plum flavors and sauces are common in both beverages (cocktails, teas) and entrees (Asian-inspired beef or pork dishes) – using and marketing fresh, house-made plum options could be an easy way for operators to upgrade the menu and add the fresh flavors that consumers seek today.”  Happy Selling!

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