Growers are producing a domestic fresh version of a South African specialty vegetable normally sold as a processed item.

Peppadew enters fresh U.S. productionOn Sept. 10, growers started their first commercial harvesting of gold peppadew near Morganville, N.J.

Morganville-based Peppadew Fresh LLC is growing and marketing the sweeter gold variety as opposed to the red variety commonly sold as brine in supermarket delis.

Peppadew Fresh is marketing the gold product through Los Angeles-based Melissa’s/World Variety Produce Inc. and Mahwah, N.J.-based Supreme Cuts.

The gold variety is typically prepared like a tomato or bell pepper and can be cored, stuffed, roasted, grilled, used on salads or in pasta, said Pierre Crawley, Peppadew Fresh’s president.

“The promotability of the product is the cult-like following it has over the last 11 years,” Crawley said. “That within itself is the promotion at the retail or foodservice level. It’s not a price-sensitive item. It’s really a matter of people getting it out there, putting it out with that Peppadew brand name which is co-branded with Melissa’s, which carries a great cache of its name alone.”

Peppadew enters fresh U.S. productionMelissa’s is merchandising peppadew in 12-count 5-ounce clamshells while Supreme Cuts offers them in 2.5- and 5-pound cello bags.

Peppadew Fresh is starting production on 6 acres of a 15-acre farm.

Harvesting generally runs Sept. 1 through late October. The larger, South African crop runs January through June on reds, with a considerably shorter harvest for golds, Crawley said.

Similar to a habanero pepper, the processed red peppadew is considered too fiery as a fresh item, Crawley said.

Crawley said the gold offers a sweeter and more effective fresh presentation.

He said buyers are expressing favorable interest in the item’s initial production.