As the spring of 2016 wanes and the summer begins, a certain produce item is finding its way into restaurant menus at increasing rates, and in ways that had previously not been imagined. This produce item is, perhaps not surprisingly, avocadoes.
But what explains the continued popularity and prevalence of avocados on restaurant menus? Restaurant industry insiders point to the extreme seasonality that characterizes avocados, especially California-based avocados. According to Tom Burfield, a columnist at The Packer, one of the main selling points of avocados in mid-2016 is their seasonal nature, “Chefs and consumers alike are attracted to foods that aren’t around all year.”
What other factors are spurring on avocado demand? Restaurant executive Dave Woolley, of Denver-based CD Culinary Approach, believes that the simultaneously “healthy and indulgent” characterization of avocados is driving demand in restaurants to all-time highs, “Avocados are a great way to look fresh and indulgent simultaneously,” commented Woolley in a recent news release.
This ever-rising demand is not only expected to continue into late 2016, but is also driving new, creative infusions of avocado into dishes. Beyond the expected guacamole recipes , chefs are coming up with new and improved dishes to wow customers, such as “avocado fries”, sliced avocados rolled in panko bread crumbs and deep-fried.
To stay competitive and manage ingredient costs while maintaining the freshest quality produce for their avocado-based dishes, restaurants are also developing detailed protocols for finding the best deals on fresh, high-quality avocados from produce distributors and suppliers. Avocadoes traditionally have quality grades and a five stage ripeness scale.
Experienced restaurant produce buyers and chefs save money without compromising quality generally by ordering avocados that may be non-premium grade solely for minor cosmetic (not quality or nutrition) based reasons, such as abnormal shape or outer skin damage. These cosmetic factors can significantly reduce the value of fresh produce offerings across the industry. What ripeness stage should restaurants and chefs shoot to buy their avocados at? Usually, a 3.5 or 4 level of ripeness is the sweet spot for restaurants, according to Woolley. With the increasing investment of restaurants in avocados growing day by day, where will the Avocado craze spread to next? Only time will tell, but in the near future, they are here to stay.
Post written by Pat Flynn, CMO at Hazel Technologies, at Hazel Technologies, we develop biodegradable products that provide unprecedented control of produce freshness, preventing extensive waste in the food supply chain and increasing shelf life for distributors, restaurants, and grocery chains. Find out more at Hazel Technologies