Paul Catania, Jr., and Lila Baig Discuss California Figs
- by Melissa De Leon Chavez
CALIFORNIA - Consumers are beginning to love a tear-drop fruit previously underscored by its boisterous siblings in the produce aisle. Figs, Paul Catania, Jr., of Catania Worldwide recently shared with me, are on their way up.
“Demand is consistently increasing, and with the interest growing among consumers, interest is likewise growing among retailers,” he says. “They’ve started to become more mainstream in the last few years with the help of social media and chefs around the world using them in recipes and on menus.”
A quick dive into history shows that this category has already inspired poetry—Elizabeth Davis, for example, wrote, “To eat figs off the tree in the very early morning, when they have been barely touched by the sun, is one of the exquisite pleasures of the Mediterranean.”
Now, this sweet secret from across the pond has found a home here in North America, where Lila Baig, Marketing Coordinator, shares it is gaining traction quickly. Rather than checking them off the grocery list, though, consumers are more apt to be intrigued by them impulsively, Lila explains.
“Retailers do a great job of merchandising figs so that people's eyes automatically stop on them. It’s either ‘Wow, figs!’ or ‘Interesting, what's that?’ Either way, it’s working,” she points out.
As to what has propelled them into that “wow!” position, Lila says the versatility of the category is key.
“They can be eaten raw, eaten with desert, eaten with dinner, or a simple salad,” she shares, explaining that the mild sweetness is one that can find itself in nearly any dish.
Don’t believe me? Check out just one example of how figs can be used outside of simply being enjoyed off the tree in the very early morning...
Black Mission California Fig Appetizer
- Slice a single Black Mission California Fig horizontally, separate slices
- Drizzle each slice with honey and olive oil
- Smear mascarpone cheese on each slice
- Serve as is or, to present as pictured, stack slices back into form of whole fig
As our industry continues to diversify its offerings and brighten its departments, AndNowUKnow will keep our eyes trained to the horizon for any new opportunities coming your way.