French beans are a produce item that have been increasing in popularity in the US in the past years. “This is an item that is really nice for a side dish, and it has really been taking hold with consumers. It has become much more widely available with retailers over the years,” says Dan Wahl, President and CEO of Miami-based vegetable importer Growers Are Us.
Guatemala supplies year-round
Growers Are Us imports their French beans out of Guatemala. “The product can be produced and imported year-round, which is something that retailers are increasingly looking for. The French beans are also grown in Mexico, and a bit in Peru, but the growing conditions in Guatemala are really good for this product, which is what allows us to offer steady volumes year-round,” Wahl explains.
Another item which has been growing in popularity, Wahl shares, are English sweet peas. “We also get these from Guatemala year-round. This is an item that is traditionally very popular in the frozen food section, but generally, when frozen the peas lose a lot of their flavor. When they are fresh, they are extremely tasty. That is why we offer them fresh, and they been becoming really popular,” he says.
Pandemic increases the demand
While these two items have been gaining ground in the produce aisles in the past years, the past few months their demand increased even more. “Because of the pandemic, packaged products have been selling very well, even though the foodservice sales have been very limited. For our French beans, we do 8-ounce and 12-ounce packaging, and we’ve seen the demand increase a lot for these items,” Wahl says.
“A lot of supermarkets are looking for year-round products to fill their shelves, and the French beans and English sweet peas are products that could certainly meet that demand,” Wahl concludes.