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Foodservice reopenings help boost demand for Watermelon radishes

Supplies of the Watermelon radishes are strong currently.

“Supply is fairly consistent with where it was this time last year. This time of year is typically when we see Watermelon radish supplies jump since they love the warm weather,” says Matt Hiltner of Babé Farms, Inc. in Santa Maria, CA. Supplies are expected to stay consistent for some time.

For Babé, the majority of its specialty radishes are grown in California’s Santa Maria Valley. The radish lineup includes the Purple Ninja radish, the white Icicle radish, multi-colored Easter Egg radishes, the French Breakfast radishes and more. “However, for the Watermelon radish, we outsource production to our partner growers in Baja, MX, as they need a specific climate in order to thrive,” says Hiltner.

As far as demand, the increasing reopening of foodservice outlets has helped boost interest for this item. “We’ve seen an uptick in demand in recent months from our customer base across the U.S. and Canada. Foodservice consumption of the Watermelon radish is off to a strong start this year,” says Hiltner. “Particularly from regions where COVID-19 restrictions are more relaxed.”

Increased retail awareness too
Part of that increased demand could also come from the long shelf-life and mild flavor the radish has. The item is also gaining ground at retail. “Consumers have become increasingly familiar with this radish over the last few years. Retail shoppers are used to seeing them on social media, service deli salads and even sushi rolls,” says Hiltner. However at retail, positioning them there needs a supportive strategy. “Its unassuming exterior poses a challenge for produce managers looking to market this product to shoppers who may have only seen it sliced on a salad or who may be unfamiliar with it altogether,” says Hiltner. To work with that, Babé Farms markets the radish in a 1 lb. clear stand-up pouch to help consumers recognize the product.

As for pricing, compared to a year ago, prices have risen following the increase in demand. “We attribute this to the gradual revival of the foodservice industry as more and more restaurants across the nation begin reopening and/or lifting the restrictions on their services,” adds Hiltner.

For more information:
Matt Hiltner
Babé Farms, Inc.
Tel: +1 (805) 925-4144
[email protected]