Longo's Mimmo Franzone Talks Retail Perspective on Chinese New Year

Fri. January 20th, 2017 - by Melissa De Leon Chavez

VAUGHAN, ONTARIO - Asian foods are hot, and I don’t just mean flavor-wise. With this particular trend on the rise, Chinese New Year has become a key time to promote Asian fruits and vegetables, expanding awareness for some consumers and reaching out to welcome others.

From the buy-side perspective, what are some key ways retailers look to participate in this opportunity? Longo’s Director of Produce and Floral, Mimmo Franzone, gave me his insights.

Mimmo Franzone, Director of Produce and Floral, Longo's“It’s important to have a good mix of variety regardless the holiday or culture, in most cases you would have 1st, 2nd, and 3rd generations shopping and their preferences in cultural food may all vary,” Mimmo starts off, explaining that Longo’s looks to keep a versatile inventory for the ever-diversifying Canadian consumer pool.

When it comes to Chinese New Year, he says that it is good to kick up those offerings a notch.

“We try to promote Asian veg, both wet and dry, while on the fruit side citrus promos are key–most importantly a stem and leaf mandarin is always on feature,” he shares when I ask about key features and promotions.

Items Mimmo says he would be on the lookout for include:

  • Gailon
  • Bok choys
  • Chinese cabbage and lettuces
  • Eggplants
  • Fuji apples both from the North West and from China

Bitter melons are always a popular choice with our customers as well,” he adds.

Overall Mimmo says he’s noticed a big uptick in Asian produce and foods in Longo’s market for a couple of reasons.

“The demographics have changed drastically in our market, where we are seeing the Asian population increasing at a very fast pace,” Mimmo explains. “Secondly, the culinary/foodservice world has been incorporating a lot of Asian veg into their menus and in return we are seeing consumers making these purchases for home consumption as well.”

The Chinese New Year rapidly approaches, but it seems the Asian produce trend will last beyond the day of festivities. What fresh items will it bring to the forefront?

We’ll continue to report on this and all other produce trends.